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Full text of "Canterbury tales; with an essay upon his language and versification, an introductory discourse, notes, and a glossary"

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T. WHITE & Co. 
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The Doctoures Prologue Page 1 

The Doctoures Tale 1 

The Pardoneres Prologue 12 

The Pardoneres Tale 14 

The Shipmannes Prologue 39 

The Shipmannes Tale 40 

The Prioresses Prologue 57 

The Prioresses Tale 58 

Prologue to Sire Thopas 68 

The Kinie of Sire Thopas 69 

Prologue to Melibeus 78 

The Tale of Melibeus 80 

The Monkes Prologue 152 

The Monkes Tale 156 

The Nonnes Preestes Prologue 1 90 

The Nonnes Preestes Tale 192 

The Second Nonnes Tale 217 

The Chanoues Yemannes Prologue 241 

The Chanones Yemannes Tale 247 

The Manciples Prologue 277 

The Manciples Tale 281 




YE, let that passen, quod oure Hoste, as now. 1 1929 
Sire Doctour of Physike, I prey you, 
Tell us a tale of som honest matere. 

It shal be don, if that ye wol it here, 
Said this doctour, and his tale began anon. 
Now, good men, quod he, herkeneth everich on. 


THER was, as telleth Titus Livius, 11935 

A knight, that cleped was Virginius, 
Fulfilled of honour and worthinesse, 
And strong of frendes, and of gret richesse. 

This knight a doughter hadde by his wif. 
No children had he mo in all his lif. 
Faire was this maid in excellent beautee 
Aboven every wight that man may see : 
For nature hath with soveraine diligence 
Yformed hire in so gret excellence, 1 1944 



As though she wolde sayn, lo, I nature, 11945 

Thus can I forme and peint a creature, 

Whan that me list ; who can me contrefete ? 

Pigmalion ? not, though he ay forge and bete, 

Or grave, or peinte : for I dare wel sain, 

Apelles, Xeuxis, shulden werche in vain, 

Other to grave, or peinte, or forge, or bete, 

If they presumed me to contrefete. 

For he that is the former principal, 11953 

Hath maked me his vicaire general 

To forme and peinten erthly creatures 

Right as me list, and eche thing in my cure is 

Under the mone, that may wane and waxe. 

And for my werk right nothing wol I axe ; 

My lord and I ben ful of on accord. 

I made hire to the worship of my lord ; 

So do I all min other creatures, 11961 

What colour that they han, or what figures. 

Thus semeth me that nature wolde say. 

This maid of age twelf yere was and tway, 
In which that nature hadde swiche delit. 
For right as she can peint a lily whit 
And red a rose, right with swiche peinture 
She peinted hath this noble creature 
Er-she was borne, upon hire limmes free, 
Wheras by right swiche colours shulden be : 11970 


And Phebus died hath hire tresses grete, 11971 

Like to the stremes of his burned hete. 

And if that excellent were hire beautee, 

A thousand fold more vertuous was she. 

In hire ne lacked no condition, 

That is to preise, as by discretion. 

As wel in gost as body, chast was she : 

For which she floured in virginitee, 

With all humilitee and abstinence, 11979 

With all attemperance and patience, 

With mesure eke, of bering and array. 

Discrete she was in answering alway, 

Though she were wise as Pallas, dare I sain, 

Hire facounde eke ful womanly and plain, 

No contrefeted termes hadde she 

To semen wise ; but after hire degree 

She spake, and all hire wordes more and lesse 11987 

Souning in vertue and in gentillesse. 

Shamefast she was in maidens shamefastnesse, 

Constant in herte, and ever in besinesse 

To drive hire out of idel slogardie : 

Bacchus had of hire mouth right no maistrie. 

For wine and youthe don Venus encrese, 

As men in fire wol casten oile and grese. 

And of hire owen vertue unconstreined, 

She hath hireself ful often sike yfeined, H996 


For that she wolde fleen the compagnie, 11997 

Wher likely was to treten of folie, 

As is at festes, at revels, and at dances, 

That ben occasions of daliances. 

Swiche thinges maken children for to be 

To sone ripe and bold, as men may see, 

Which is ful perilous, and hath ben yore ; 

For al to sone may she lernen lore 

Of boldnesse, whan she woxen is a wif. 12005 

And ye maistresses in your olde lif, 
That lordes doughters han in governance, 
Ne taketh of my wordes displesance: 
Thinketh that ye ben set in governinges 
Of lordes doughters, only for two thinges, 
Other for ye han kept your honestee, 

Or elles for ye han fallen in freeltee, 

And knowen wel ynough the olde dance, 12013 

And han forsaken fully swiche meschance 

For evermo : therfore for Cristes sake 

To teche hem vertue loke that ye ne slake. 
A theef of venison, that hath forlaft 

His likerousnesse, and all his olde craft, 

Can kepe a forest best of any man : 

Now kepeth hem wel, for if ye wol ye can. 

Loke wel, that ye unto no vice assent, 

Lest ye be damned for your wikke entent, 12022 


For who so doth, a traytour is certain : 12023 

And taketh kepe of that I shal you sain ; 
Of alle treson soveraine pestilence 
Is, whan a wight betrayeth innocence. 

Ye fathers, and ye mothers, eke also, 
Though ye han children, be it on or mo, 
Your is the charge of all hir surveance, 
While that they ben under your governance. 
Beth ware, that by ensample of your living, 12031 
Or by your negligence in chastising, 
That they ne perish : for I dare wel saye, 
If that they don, ye shul it dere abeye. 
Under a shepherd soft and negligent, 
The wolf hath many a shepe and lamb to-rent. 

Sufficeth this ensample now as here, 
For I mote turne agen to my matere. 

This maid, of which I tell my tale expresse, 12039 
She kept hireself, hire neded no maistresse ; 
For in hire living maidens mighten rede, 
As in a book, every good word and dede, 
That longeth to a maiden vertuous : 
She was so prudent and so bounteous. 
For which the fame out sprong on every side 
Both of hire beautee and hire bountee wide : 
That thurgh the lond they preised hire ech one, 
That loved vertue, sauf envie alone, 12043 


That sory is of other marines wele, 12049 

And glad is of his sorwe and his unhele. 
The doctour maketh this descriptioun. 

This maiden on a day went in the toun 
Toward a temple, with hire mother dere, 
As is of yonge maidens the manere. 

Now was ther than a justice in that toun, 
That governour was of that regioun : 
And so befell, this juge his eyen cast 12057 

Upon this maid, avising hire ful fast, 
As she came forth by ther this juge stood : 
Anon his herte changed and his mood, 
So was he caught with beautee of this maid, 
And to himself ful prively he said, 
This maiden shal be min for any man. 

Anon the fend into his herte ran, 
And taught him sodenly, that he by sleight 120^5 
This maiden to his purpos winnen might. 
For certes, by no force, ne by no mede, 
Him thought he was not able for to spede ; 
For she was strong of frendes, and eke she 
Confermed was in swiche soveraine b'ountee, 
That wel he wist he might hire never winne, 
As for to make hire with hire body sinne. 
For which with gret deliberatioun 
He sent after a cherl was in the toun, 12074 


The which he knew for sotil and for bold. 12075 

This juge unto this cherl his tale hath told 

In secree wise, and made him to ensure, 

He shulde tell it to no creature, 

And if he did, he shulde lese his hede. 

And whan assented was this cursed rede, 

Glad was the juge, and maked him gret chere, 

And yaf him yeftes precious and dere. 

Whan shapen was all hir conspiracie 12033 

Fro point to point, how that his lecherie 
Parformed shulde be ful sotilly, 
As ye shul here it after openly, 
Home goth this cherl, that highte Claudius. 
This false juge, that highte Appius, 
(So was his name, for it is no fable , 
But knowen for an*historial thing notable ; 
The sentence of it soth is out of doute) 120.91 

This false juge goth now fast aboute 
To hasten his delit all that he may. 
And so befell, sone after on a day 
This false juge, as telleth us the storie, 
As he was wont, sat in his consistorie, 
And yaf his domes upon sondry cas ; / 

This false cherl came forth a ful gret pas, 
And saide ; lord, if that it be your will, 
As doth me right upon this pitous bill, 12100 


In which I plaine upon Virginias. 12101 

And if that he wol sayn it is not thus, 
1 wol it preve, and finden good witnesse, 
That soth is that my bille wol expresse. 

The juge answerd, of this in his absence 
I may not yeve diffinitif sentence , 
Let don him call, and I wol gladly here ; 
Thou shalt have right, and no wrong as now here. 

Virginius came to wete the juges will, 1210.9 

And right anon was red this cursed bill ; 
The sentence of it was as ye shul here. 

To you, my lord sire Appius so dere, 
Sheweth your poure servant Claudius, 
How that a knight called Virginius, 
Agein the lawe, agein all equitee, 
Holdeth, expresse agein the will of me, 
My servant, which that is my thral by right, 
Which from min ho us was stolen on a night 12117 
While that she was ful yong, I wol it preve 
By witness, lord, so that it you not greve ; 
She n'is his doughter nought, what so he say. 
Wherfore to you, my lord the juge, I pray; 
Yelde me my thral, if that it be your will. 
Lo, this was all the sentence of his bill. 

Virginius gan upon the cherl behold ; 
But hastily, er he his tale told, 


And wold han preved it, as shuld a knight, 12127 

And eke by witnessing of many a wight, 

That all was false, that said his adversary, 

This cursed juge wolde nothing tary, 

Ne here a word more of Virginius, 

But yave his jugement, and saide thus. 

I deme anon this cherl his servant have. 
Thou shalt no lenger in thin hous hire save. 
Go bring hire forth, and put hire in our ward. 
The cherl shal have his thral ; thus I award. 12135 

And whan this worthy knight Virginius, 
Thurgh sentence of this justice Appius, 
Muste by force his dere doughter yeven 
Unto the juge, in lecherie to liven, 
He goth him home, and set him in his hall. 
And let anon his dere doughter call : 
And with a face ded as ashen cold, 12143 

Upon hire humble face he gan behold, 
With fadres pitee stiking thurgh his herte, 
Al wold he from his purpos not converte. 

Doughter, quod he, Virginia by thy name, 
Ther ben two waies, other deth or shame, 
That thou must suflfre, alas that I was bore I 
For never thou deservedest wherfore 
To dien with a swerd or with a knif. 
O dere doughter, ender of my lif, 12152 


Which I have fostred up with swiche plesance, 12153 

That thou were never out of my remembrance ; 

O doughter, which that art my laste wo, 

And in my lif my laste joye also, 

O gemme of chastitee, in patience 

Take thou thy deth, for this is my sentence ; 

For love and not for hate thou must be ded, 

My pitous hond must smiten of thin hed. 

Alas that ever Appius thee say I 12161 

Thus hath he falsely juged thee to-day. 

And told hire all the cas, as ye before 

Han herd, it nedeth not to tell it more. 

O mercy, dere father, quod this maid. 
And with that word she both hire armes laid 
About his necke, as she was wont to do, 
(The teres brast out of hire eyen two,) 
And said, O goode father, shal I die ? 12169 

Is ther no grace ? is ther no remedie ? 

No certes, dere doughter min, quod he. 
Than yeve me leiser, father min, quod she, 
My deth for to complaine a litel space : 
For parde Jepte yave his doughter grace 
For to complaine, or he hire slow, alas ! 
And God it wot, nothing was hire trespas, 
But for she ran hire father first to see, 
To welcome him with gret solempnitee. 12178 


And with that word she fell aswoune anon, 12179 
And after, whan hire swouning was agon, 
She riseth up, and to hire father said : 
Blessed be God, that I shal die a maid. 
Yeve me my deth, or that 1 have a shame. 
Doth with your child your wille a goddes name. 
And with that word she praied him ful oft, 
That with his swerd he wolde smite hire soft ; 
And with that word, aswoune again she fell. 1218? 
Hire father, with ful sorweful herte and will, 
Hire hed of smote, and by the top it hent, 
And to the juge he gan it to present, 
As he sat yet in dome in consistorie. 

And whan the juge it saw, as saith the storie, 
He bad to take him, and anhang him fast. 
But right anon a thousand peple in thrast 
To save the knight, for routh and for pitee, 12195 
For knowen was the false iniquitee. 

The peple anon had suspect in this thing 
By maner of the cherles chalenging, 
That it was by the assent of Appius ; 
They wisten wel that he was lecherous. 
For which unto this Appius they gon, 
And caste him in a prison right anon, 
Wheras he slow himself : and Claudius, 
That servant was unto this Appius, 12204 


Was denied for to hange upon a tree ; 12205 

But that Virginius of his pitee 

So prayed for him, that he was exiled, 

And elles certes had he ben begiled : 

The remenant were anhanged, more and lesse, 

That were consentant of this cursednesse. 

Here men may see how sin hath his merite : 
Beth ware, for no man wot whom God wol smite 
In no degree, ne in which maner wise 12213 

The worme of conscience may agrise 
Of wicked lif, though it so privee be, 
That no man wote therof, sauf God and he : 
For be he lewed man or elles lered, 
He n'ot how sone that he shal ben afered. 
Therfore I rede you this conseil take, 
Forsaketh sinne, or sinne you forsake. 12220 


OUR Hoste gan to swere as he were wood ; 
Harow ! (quod he) by nailes and by blood, 
This was a false cherl, and a false justice. 
As shameful deth, as herte can devise, 
Come to thise juges and hir advocas. 
Algate this sely maide is slain, alas ! 
Alas ! to dere abought she hire beautee. 12227 


Wherfore I say, that al day man may see, 12223 

That yeftes of fortune and of nature 

Ben cause of deth to many a creature. 

Hire beautee was hire deth, I dare wel sain ; 

Alas! so pitously as she was slain. 

Of bothe yeftes, that I speke of now, 

Men han ful often more for harm than prow. 

But trewely, min owen maister dere, 
This was a pitous tale for to here: 12236 

But natheles, passe over, is no force. 
I pray to God so save thy gentil corps, 
And eke thyn urinals, and thy jordanes, 
Thin ypocras, and eke thy galianes, 
And every boist ful of thy letuarie, 
God blesse hem and our lady Seinte Marie. 
So mote I the, thou art a propre man, 
And like a prelat by Seint Ronian ; 12244 

Said I not wel ? I cannot speke in terme ; 
But wel I wot, thou dost rnin herte to erme, 
That I have almost caught a cardiacle : 
By corpus domini but I have triacle, 
Or elles a draught of moist and corny ale, 
Or but I here anon a mery tale, 
Myn herte is lost for pitee of this maid. 
Thou bel amy, thou pardoner, he said, 
Tel us soin mirth of japes right anon. 12253 


It shal be don, quod he, by Seint Ronion. 12254 
But first (quod he) here at this ale-stake 
I wol both drinke, and biten on a cake. 
But right anon thise gentiles gan to crie ; 

Nay, let him tell us of no ribaudrie. 
Tell us som moral thing, that we mow lere, 
Som wit, and thanne wol we gladly here. 
I graunte ywis, quod he, but I must thinke 
Upon som honest thing, while that I drinke. 12262 


LORDING s, quod he, in chirche whan I preche, 
I peine me to have an hautein speche, 
And ring it out, as round as goth a bell, 
For I can all by rote that I tell. 
My teme is alway on, and ever was ; 1226? 

Radix malorum est cupiditas. 

First 1 pronounce whennes that I come, 
And than my bulles shew I all and some : 
Our liege lordes sele on my patente, 
That shew I first my body to warrente, 
That no man be so bold, ne preest ne clerk, 
Me to disturbe of Cristes holy werk. 
And after that than tell I forth my tales. 
Bulles of popes, and of cardinales, 12276 


Of patriarkes, and bishoppes I shewe, 12277 

And in Latin I speke a wordes fewe, 

To saffron with my predication, 

And for to stere men to devotion. 

Than shew I forth my longe cristal stones, 

Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones, 

Relikes they ben, as wenen they echon. 

Than have I in laton a shulder bone, 
Which that was of an holy iewes shepe. 12285 

Good men, say I, take of my wordes kepe : 
If that this bone be washe in any well, 
If cow, or calf, or shepe, or oxe swell, 
That any worm hath ete, or worm ystonge, 
Take water of that well, and wash his tonge, 
And it is hole anon : and forthermore 
Of pockes, and of scab, and every sore 
Shal every shepe be hole, that of this well 12293 
Drinketh a draught; take kepe of that I tell. 

If that the good man, that the bestes oweth, 
Wol every weke, er that the cok him croweth, 
Fasting ydrinken of this well a draught, 
As thilke holy Jew our eldres taught, 
His bestes and his store shal multiplie. 
And, sires, also it heleth jalousie. 
For though a man be falle in jalous rage, 
Let maken with this water his potage, 12302 


And never shal he more his wif mistrist, 12303 

Though he the soth of hire defaute wist ; 
Al had she taken preestes two or three. 

Here is a mitaine eke, that ye may see: 
He that his hand wol put in this mitaine, 
He shal have multiplying of his graine, 
Whan he hath sowen, be it whete or otes, 
So that he offer pens or elles grotes. 

And, men and women, o thing warne I you : 12311 
If any wight be in this chirche now, 
That hath don sinne horrible, so that he 
Dare not for shame of it yshriven be : 
Or any woman, be she yong or old, 
That hath ymade hire husbond cokewold, 
Swiche folk shul han no power ne no grace 
To offer to my relikes in this place. 
And who so findeth him out of swiche blame, 12319, 
He wol come up and offer in Goddes name, 
And I assoyle him by the auctoritee, 
Which that by bulle ygr anted was to me. 

By this gaude have I wonnen yere by yere 
An hundred mark, sin I was pardonere. 
I stonde like a clerk in my pulpet, 
And whan the lewed peple is doun yset, 
I preche so as ye han herd before, 
And tell an hundred false japes more. 12323 


Than peine I me to stretchen forth my necke, 12329 

And est and west upon the peple I becke, 

As doth a dove, sitting upon a berne : 

Myn hondes and my tonge gon so yerne, 

That it is joye to see my besinesse. 

Of avarice and of swiche cursednesse 

Is all my preching, for to make hem free 

To yeve hir pens, and namely unto me. 

For min entente is not but for to whine, 12337 

And nothing for correction of sinne. 

I recke never whan that they be beried, 

Though that hir soules gon a blake beried. 

For certes many a predication 
Cometh oft time of evil entention ; 
Som for plesance of folk, and flaterie, 
To ben avanced by hypocrisie ; 
And som for vaine glorie, and som for hate. 12345 
'For whan I dare non other wayes debate, 
Than wol I sting him with my tonge smerte 
T n preching, so that he shal not asterte 

> ben defamed falsely, if that he 
h trespased to my brethren or to me. 
hough I telle not his propre name, 
Val wel knowen that it is the same 
"s, and by other circumstances. 
5 I folk, that don us displesances : 12354 

.II. C 


Thus spit I out my venime under hewe 12355 

Of holinesse, to seme holy and trewe. 

But shortly min entente I wol devise, 

I preche of nothing but for covetise. 

Therfore my teme is yet, and ever was, 

Radix malorum est cupiditas. 

Thus can I preche again the same vice 
Which that I use, and that is avarice. 
But though myself be gilty in that sinne, I23fi3 

Yet can I maken other folk to twinne 
From avarice, and sore hem to repente. 
But that is not my principal entente ; 
I preche nothing but for covetise. 
Of this matere it ought ynough suffise. 

Than tell I hem ensamples many on 
Of olde stories longe time agon. 
For lewed peple loven tales olde; 12371 

Swhiche thinges can they wel report and holde. 
What ? trowen ye, that whiles I may preche 
And winnen gold and silver for I teche, 
That I wol live in poverte wilfully ? 
Nay, nay, I thought it never trewely. 
For I wol preche and beg in sondry londes, 
I wol not do no labour with min hondes, 
Ne make baskettes for to live therby, 
Because I wol not beggen idelly. 123 so 


I wol non of the apostles contrefete : 12331 

I wol have money, wolle, chese, and whete> 

Al were it yeven of the pourest page, 

Or of the pourest widewe in a village : 

Al shulde hire children sterven for famine. 

Nay, I wol drinke the licour of the vine, 

And have a joly wenche in every toun. 

But herkeneth, lordings, in conclusioun, 
Your liking is that I shal tell a tale. 12389 

Now I have dronke a draught of corny ale, 
By God I hope 1 shal you tell a thing, 
That shal by reson ben at your liking : 
For though myself be a ful vicious man, 
A moral tale yet I you tellen can, 
Which I am wont to prechen, for to winne. 
Now hold your pees, my tale I wol beginne 12396 

IN Flandres whilom was a compagnie 
Of yonge folk, that haunteden folie, 
As hasard, riot, stewes, and tavernes ; 
Wheras with harpes, lutes, and giternes, 
They dance and plaie at dis bothe day and night 
And ete also, and drinke over hir might; 
Thurgh which they don the devil sacrifice 
Within the devils temple, in cursed wise, 
By superfluitee abhominable. 1 24on 


Hir othes ben so gret and so damnable, 
That it is grisly for to here hem swere. 
Our blisful lordes body they to-tere ; 
Hem thought the Jewes rent him not ynough ; 
And eche of hem at others sinne lough. 

And right anon in comen tombesteres 
Fetis and smale, and yonge fruitesteres, 
Singers with harpes, baudes, wafereres, 
Which ben the veray devils officeres, 12414 

To kindle and blow the fire of lecherie, 
That is annexed unto glotonie. 
The holy writ take I to my witnesse, 
That luxurie is in wine and dronkenesse. 

Lo, how that dronken Loth unkindely 
Lay by his daughters two unwetingly, 
So dronke he was he n'iste what he wrought. 

Herodes, who so wel the stories sought, 12422 
Whan he of wine replete was at his feste, 
Right at his owen table he yave his heste 
To sleen the Baptist John ful gilteles. 

Seneca saith a good word douteles : 
He saith he can no difference find 
Betwix a man that is out of his mind, 
And a man whiche that is dronkelew : 
But that woodnesse, y fallen in a shrew, 
Persevereth lenger than doth dronkenesse. 12431 


O glotonie, full of cursednesse; 12432 

O cause first of our confusion, 
O original of our damnation, 
Til Crist had bought us with his blood again. 
Loketh, how dere, shortly for to sain, 
Abought was thilke cursed vilanie: 
Corrupt was all this world for glotonie, 

Adam our father, and his wif also, 
Fro Paradis, to labour and to wo, 12440 

Were driven for that vice, it is no drede, 
For while that Adarn fasted, as I rede, 
He was in Paradis, and whan that he 
Ete of the fruit defended on a tree, 
Anon he was out cast to wo and peine. 
O glotonie, on thee wel ought us plaine. 

O, wist a man how many maladies 
Folwen of excesse and of glotonies, 12448 

He wolde ben the more mesurable 
Of his diete, sitting at his table. 
Alas ! the shorte throte, the tendre mouth, 
Maketh that Est and West, and North and South, 
In erthe, in air, in water, men to-swinke, 
To gete a gloton deintee mete and drinke. 
Of this matere, O Poule, wel canst thou trete. 
Mete unto wombe, and wombe eke unto mete 
Shal God destroien bothe, as Paulus saith. 12457 


Alas ! a foule thing is it by my faith 12458 

To say this word, and fouler is the dede, 
Whan man so drinketh of the white and rede, 
That of his throte he maketh his privee 
Thurgh thilke cursed superfluitee. 

The Apostle saith weping ful pitously, 
Ther walken many, of which you told have I, 
I say it now weping with pitous vois, 
That they ben enemies of Cristes crois : 12466 

Of whiche the end is deth, womb is hir God. 
O wombe, O belly, stinking is thy cod, 
Fulfilled of dong and of corruptioun ; 
At either end of thee foule is the soun. 
How gret labour and cost is thee to find ! 
Thise cokes how they stamp, and strein, and grind, 
And turnen substance into accident, 
To fulfill all thy likerous talent! 12474 

Out of the harde bones knocken they 
The mary, for they casten nought away, 
That may go thurgh the gullet soft and sote : 
Of spicerie, of leef, of barke, and rote, 
Shal ben his sause ymaked by delit 
To make him yet a newer appetit. 
But certes he, that haunteth swiche delices, 
Is ded, while that he liveth in tho vices. 

A lecherous thing is wine, and dronkenesse. 


Is ful of striving and of wretchednesse. 12434 

O dronken man, disfigured is thy face, 
Sour is thy breth, foul art thou to enbrace : 
And thurgh thy dronken nose semeth the soun, 
As though thou saidest ay, Sampsoun, Sampsoun : 
And yet, God wot, Sampsoun dronk never no wine. 
Thou fallest, as it. were a stiked swine : 
Thy tonge is lost, and all thin honest cure, 
For dronkenesse is veray sepulture 12492 

Of mannes wit, and his discretion. 
In whom that drinke hath domination, 
He can no conseil kepe, it is no drede. 
Now kepe you fro the white and fro the rede, 
And namely fro the white wine of Lepe, 
That is to sell in Fishstrete and in Chepe. 
This wine of Spaigne crepeth subtilly 
In other wines growing faste by, 12500 

Of which ther riseth swiche fumositee, 
That whan a man hath dronken draughtes three, 
And weneth that he be at home in Chepe, 
He is in Spaigne, right at the toun of Lepe, 
Not at the Rochell, ne at Burdeux toun ; 
And thanne wol he say, Sampsoun, Sampsoun. 
But herkeneth, lordings, o word, I -you pray, 
That all the soveraine actes, dare I say, 
Of victories in the Olde Testament, 12509 


Thurgh veray God, that is omnipotent, 12510 

Were don in abstinence and in prayere : 
Loketh the Bible, and ther ye mow it lere. 

Loke Attila, the grete conquerour, 
Died in his slepe, with shame and dishonour, 
Bleding ay at his nose in dronkenesse : 
A capitaine shulde live in sobrenesse. 

And over all this, aviseth you right wel, 
What was commanded unto Lamuel ; 1251 8 

Not Samuel, but Lamuel say I. 
Redeth the Bible, and find it expresly 
Of wine yeving to hem that have justice. 
No more of this, for it may wel suffice. 

And now that I have spoke of glotonie, 
Now wol I you defenden hasardrle. 
Hasard is veray moder of lesinges, 
And of deceite, and cursed forsweringes : 1252*? 
Blaspheming of Crist, manslaughter, and wast also 
Of catel, and of time ; and forthermo 
It is repreve, and contrary of honour, 
For to ben hold a commun hasardour. 
And ever the higher he is of estat, 
The more he is holden desolat. 
If that a Prince useth hasarderie, 
In alle governance and policie 
He is, as by commun opinion, 12535 


Yhold the lesse in reputation. 12536 

Stilbon, that was a wise embassadour, 
Was sent to Corinth with ful gret honour 
Fro Calidone, to maken hem alliance : 
And whan he came, it happed him par chance, 
That all the gretest that were of that lond 
Yplaying atte hasard he hem fond. 
For which, as sone as that it mighte be, 
He stale him home agein to his contree, 12544 

And sayde ther, I wol not lese my name, 
Ne wol not take on me so gret defame, 
You for to allie unto non hasardours. 
Sendeth som other wise embassadours, 
For by my trouthe, me were lever die, 
Than I you shuld to hasardours allie. 
For ye, that ben so glorious in honours, 
Shal not allie you to non hasardours, * 12552 

As by my wille, ne as by my tretee. 
This wise philosophre thus sayd he. 

Loke eke how to the king Demetrius 
The king of Parthes, as the book sayth us, 
Sent him a pair of dis of gold in scorne, 
For he had used hasard therbeforne : 
For which he held his glory and his renoun 
At no value or reputatioun. 
Lordes may finden other maner play -isssi 


Honest ynough to drive the day way. 12062 

Now wol I speke of othes false and grete 
A word or two, as olde bookes trete. 
Gret swering is a thing abhominable, 
And false swering is yet more reprevable. 
The highe God forbad swering at al, 
Witnesse on Mathew : but in special 
Of swering sayth the holy Jeremie, 
Thou shalt swere soth thin othes, and not lie; 12570 
And swere in dome, and eke in rightwisnesse ; 
But idel swering is a cursednesse. 

Behold and see, that in the firste table 
Of highe Goddes hestes honourable, 
How that the second hest of him is this, 
Take not my name in idel or amis. 
Lo, rather he forbedeth swiche swering, 
Than homicide, or many an other thing. 12578 

I say that as by ordre thus it stondeth ; 
This knoweth he that his hestes understondeth, 
How that the second hest of God is that. 
And forthermore, I wol thee tell all plat, 
That vengeance shal not parten from his hous, 
That of his othes is outrageous. 
By Goddes precious herte, and by his nailes, 
And by the blood of Crist, that is in Hailes, 
Seven is my chance, and thin is cink and treye : 12597 


By Goddes armes if thou falsly pleye, i25ss 

This dagger shal thurghout thin herte go. 
This fruit cometh of the bicchel bones two, 
Forswering, ire, falsenesse, and homicide. 

Now for the love of Crist that for us dide, 
Leteth your othes, bothe gret and smale. 
But, sires, now wol I tell you forth my tale. 

Thise riotoures three, of which I tell. 
Long erst or prime rong of any bell, las.ofi 

Were set hem in a taverne for to drinke : 
And as they sat, they herd a belle clinke ' 
Beforn a corps, was caried to his grave : 
That on of hem gan callen to his knave, 
Go bet, quod he, and axe redily, 
What corps is this, that passeth here forth by : 
And loke that thou report his name wel. 

Sire, quod this boy, it nedeth never a del; 12604 
It was me told or ye came here two houres ; 
He was parde an old felaw of youres, 
And sodenly he was yslain to-night, 
Fordronke as he sat on his benche upright, 
Ther came a privee theef, men clepen Deth, 
That in this contree all the peple sleth, 
And with his spere he smote his herte atw.o, 
And went his way withouten wordes mo. 
He hath a thousand slain this pestilence : 12613 


And, maister, or ye come in his presence, 12614 
Me thinketh that it were ful necessarie 
For to beware of swiche an adversarie : 
Beth redy for to mete him evermore. 
Thus taughte me my dame, I say no more. 

By Seinte Marie, sayd this tavernere, 
The child sayth soth, for he hath slain this yere 
Hens over a mile, within a gret village, 12621 

Both man and woman, child, and hyne, and page ; 
I trowe his habitation be there : 
To ben avised gret wisdome it were, 
Or that he did a man a dishonour. 

Ye, Goddes armes, quod this riotour, 
Is it swiche peril with him for to mete ? 
I shal him seke by stile and eke by strete. 
I make a vow by Goddes digne bones. 
Herkeneth, felawes, we three ben alle ones : iseao 
Let eche of us hold up his hond to other, 
And eche of us becomen others brother, 
And we wol slen this false traitour deth : 
He shal be slain, he that so many sleth, 
By Goddes dignitee, or it be night. - 

Togeder han thise three hir trouthes plight 
To live and dien eche of hem for other, 
As though he were his owen boren brother. 
And up they stert al dronken in this rage, 12639 


And forth they gon towardes that village, 12G40 
Of which the taverner had spoke beforn, 
And many a grisly oth than have they sworn, 
And Cristes blessed body they to-rent; 
Deth shal be ded, if that we may him hent. 

Whan they han gon not fully half a mile, 
Right as they wold han troden over a stile, 
An olde man and a poure with hem mette. 
This olde man ful mekely hem grette, 12643 

And sayde, thus ; Now, lordes, God you see. 

The proudest of thise riotoures three 
Answerd agen ; What ? cherl, with sory grace, 
Why art thou all forwrapped save thy face? 
Why livest thou so longe in so gret age? 

This olde man gan loke in his visage, 
And sayde thus ; For I ne cannot finde 
A man, though that I walked into Inde, 12656 

Neither in citee, ne in no village, 
That wolde change his youthe for min age ; 
And therfore mote I han min age still 
As longe time as it is Goddes will. 
Ne deth, alas ! ne will not han my lif. 
Thus walke I like a resteles caitif, 
And on the ground, which is my modres gate, 
I knocke with my staf, erlich and late, 
And say to hire, Leve mother, let me in. 12665 


Lo, how I vanish, flesh, and blood, and skin : 12666 
Alas ! whan shul my bones ben at reste? 
Mother, with you wold I changen my cheste, 
That in my chambre longe time hath be, 
Ye, for an heren clout to wrap in me. 
But yet to me she wol not don that grace, 
For wnich ful pale and welked is my face. 

But, sires, to you it is no curtesie 
To speke unto an olde man vilanie, 12674 

But he trespase in word or elles in dede. 
In holy writ ye moun yourselven rede ; 
Ageins an olde man, hore upon his hede, 
Ye shuld arise : therfore I yeve you rede, 
Ne doth unto an olde man non harm now, 
No more than that ye w.old a man did you 
In age, if that ye may so long abide. 
And God be with you, wher ye go or ride 12682 
I moste go thider as I have to go. 

Nay, olde cherl, by God thou shalt not so, 
Sayde this other hasardour anon ; 
Thou partest not so lightly by Seint John. 
Thou spake right now of thilke traitour deth, 
That in this contree all our frendes sleth ; 
Have here my trouth as thou art his espie ; 
Tell wher he is, or thou shalt it abie, 
By God and by the holy Sacrement; 12691 


For sothly thou art on of his assent 12692 

To slen us yonge folk, thou false thefe. 

Now, sires, quod he, if it be you so lefe 
To finden deth, tourne up this croked way, 
For in that grove I left him by my fay 
Under a tree, and ther he wol abide ; 
Ne for your bost he wol him nothing hide. 
Se ye that oke ? right ther ye shuln him find. 
God save you, that bought agen mankind, 12700 
And you amende ; thus sayd this olde man. 

And everich of thise riotoures ran, 
Til they came to the tree, and ther they found 
Of Floreins fine of gold ycoined round, 
Wei nigh an eighte bushels, as hem thought. 
No lenger than after dethe they sought, 
But eche of hem so glad was of the sight, 
For that the floreins ben so faire and bright, 12708 
That doun they sette hem by the precious hord. 
The werste of hem he spake the firste word. 

Brethren, quod he, take kepe what 1 shal say ; 
My wit is gret, though that I bourde and play. 
This tresour hath fortune unto us yeven 
In mirth andjolitee our lif to liven, 
And lightly as it cometh, so wol we spend. 
Ey, Goddes precious dignitee, who wend 
To-day, that we shuld han so faire a grace ? 12717 


But might this gold be caried fro this place 12718 

Home to myn hous, or elles unto youres, 

(For wel I wote that all this gold is oures) 

Thanne were we in high felicitee. 

But trewely by day it may not be ; 

Men wolden say that we were theeves strong, 

And for our owen tresour don us hong. 

This tresour must ycaried be by night 

As wisely and as sleighly as it might. 12726' 

Wherfore I rede, that cut among us alle - 

We drawe, and let see wher the cut wol falle : 

And he that hath the cut, with herte blith, 

Shal rennen to the toun, and that ful swith, 


And bring us bred and win ful prively : 

And two of us shal kepen subtilly 

This tresour wel : and if he wol not tarien, 

Whan it is night, we wol this tresour carien 12734 

By on assent, wher as us thinketh best. 

That on of hem the cut brought in his fest, 
And bad hem drawe and loke wher it wold falle, 
And it fell on the yongest of hem alle : 
And forth toward the toun he went anon. 
And al so sone as that he was agon, 
That on of hem spake thus unto that other ; 
Thou wotest wel thou art my sworen brother, 
Thy profite wol I tell thee right anon. K?4a 


Thou wost wel that our felaw is agon, 12744 

And here is gold, and that ful gret plentee, 
That shal departed ben among us three. 
But natheles, if I can shape it so, 
That it departed were among us two, 
Had I not don a frendes turn to thee ? 

That other answerd, I n'ot how that may be : 
He wote wel that the gold is with us tweye. 
What shuln we don ? what shuln we to him seye ? 

Shal it be conseil ? sayd the firste shrewe ; 12753 
And 1 shal tellen thee in wordes fewe 
What we shul don, and bring it wel aboute. 

I grante, quod that other, out of doute, 
That by my trouth I wol thee not bewreie. 

Now, quod the first, thou wost wel we ben tweie, 
And tweie of us shul strenger be than on. 
Loke, whan that he is set, thou right anon 12760 
Arise, as though thou woldest with him play ; 
A nd I shal rivehim thurgh the sides tway, 
While that thou stroglest with him as in game, 
And with thy dagger loke thou do the same ; 
And than shal all this gold departed be, 
My dere frend, betwixen thee and me : 
Than moun we bothe our lustes al fulfille, 
And play at dis right at our owen wille. 
And thus accorded ben thise shrewes tweye, 12769 



To slen the thridde, as ye han herd me seye. 12770 

This yongest, which that wente to the toun, 
Ful oft in herte he rolleth up and doun 
The beautee of thise floreins newe and bright. 
O Lord, quod he, if so were that I might 
Have all this tresour to myself alone, 
Ther n'is no man that liveth under the trone 
Of God, that shulde live so mery as I. 
And at the last the fend our enemy 12778 

Putte in his thought, that he shuld poison beye, 
With which he mighte slen his felaws tweye. 
For why, the fend fond him in swiche living, 
That he had leve to sorwe him to bring. 
For this was outrely his ful entente 
To slen hem both, and never to repente. 

And forth he goth, no lenger wold he tary, 
Into the toun unto a Potecary, 12786 

And praied him that he him wolde sell 
Som poison, that he might his ratouns quell. 
And eke ther was a polkat in his hawe, 
That, as he sayd, his capons had yslawe : 
And fayn he wolde him wreken, if he might, 
Of vermine, that destroied hem by night. 
The Potecary answerd, Thou shalt have 
A thing, as wisly God my soule save, 
In all this world ther n'is no creature, 12705 


That ete or dronke hath of this confecture, 1279G 

Not but the mountance of a come of whete, 

That he ne shal his lif anon forlete ; 

Ye, sterve he shal, and that in lesse while, 

Than thou wolt gon a pas not but a mile : 

This poison is so strong and violent. 

This cursed man hath in his hond yhent 
This poison in a box, and swithe he ran 
Into the nexte sttete unto a man, 12304 

And borwed of him large botelles three ; 
And in the two the poison poured he ; 
The thridde he kepte clene for his drinke, 
For all the night he shope him for to swinke 
In carying of the gold out of that place. 

And whan this riotour with sory grace 
Hath filled with win his grete botelles three, 
To his felawes agen repaireth he. 12812 

What nedeth it therof to sermon more ? 
For right as they had cast his deth before, 
Right so they han him slain, and that anon. 
And whan that this was don, thus spake that on ; 
Now let us sit and drinke, and make us mery, 
And afterward we wiln his body bery. 
And with that word it happed him par cas, 
To take the botelle, ther the poison was, 
And dronke, and yave his felaw drinke also, 12321 


For which anon they storven bothe two. 12322 

But certes I suppose that Avicenne 
Wrote never in no canon, ne in no fenne, 
Mo wonder signes of empoisoning, 
Than had thise wretches two or hir ending. 
Thus ended ben thise homicides two, 
And eke the false empoisoner also. 

O cursednesse of alle cursednesse ! 
O traitours homicide ! O wickednesse ! i2830 

O glotonie, luxurie, and hasardrie ! 
Thou blasphemour of Crist with vilanie, 
And othes grete, of usage and of pride ! 
Alas ! mankinde, how may it betide, 
That to thy Creatour, which that thee wrought, 
And with his precious herte-blood thee bought, 
Thou art so false and so unkind, alas ! 

Now, good men, God foryeve you your trespas ; 
And 'ware you fro the sinne of avarice. 12339 

Min holy pardon may you all warice, 
So that ye offre nobles or starlinges, 
Or elles silver broches, spones, ringes. 
Boweth your hed under this holy Bulle. 
Cometh up, ye wives, and offreth of your wolle ; 
Your names I entre here in my roll anon ; 
Into the blisse of heven shul ye gon : 
I you assoile by min high powere, 12347 


You thatwiln offre, as clene and eke as clere 12848 
As ye were borne. Lo, sires, thus I preche ; 
And Jesu Crist, that is our soules leche, 
So graunte you his pardon to receive ; 
For that is best, I wol you not deceive. 

But, sires, o word forgate I in my tale ; 
I have relikes and pardon in my male, 
As faire as any man in Englelond, 
Which were me yeven by the Popes hond. 12856 
If any of you wol of devotion 
Offren, and han min absolution, 
Cometh forth anon, and kneleth here adoun, 
And mekely receiveth my pardoun. 
Or elles taketh pardon, as ye wende, 
Al newe and freshe at every tounes ende, 
So that ye offren alway newe and newe, 
Nobles or pens, which that ben good and trewe. 12S64 
It is an honour to everich that is here, 
That ye moun have a suffisant pardonere 
To assoilen you in contree as ye ride, 
For aventures, which that moun betide. 
Paraventure ther may falle on, or two, 
Doun of his hors, and breke his necke atwo. 
Loke, which a seurtee is it to you alle, 
That I am in your felawship yfalle, 
That may assoile you bothe more and lasse, 12873 


Whan that the soule shal fro the body passe. 12374 

I rede that our hoste shal beginne, 

For" he is most envoluped in sinne. 

Come forth, sire hoste, and offre first anon, 

And thou shalt kisse the relikes everich on, 

Ye for a grote ; unbokel anon thy purse. 

Nay nay, quod he, than have I Cristes curse. 
Let be, quod he, it shal not be, so the ich. 
Thou woldest make me kisse thin olde brech, 12332 
And swere it were a relike of a seint, 
Though it were with thy foundement depeint. 
But by the crois, which that Seint Heleine fond, 
I wolde I had thin coilons in min hond, 
Instede of relikes, or of seintuarie. 
Let cut hem of, I wol thee help hem carie ; 
They shul be shrined in an hogges tord. 

This Pardoner answered not a word ; 123,90 

So wroth he was, no word ne wolde he say. 

Now, quod our hoste, I wol no lenger play 
With thee, ne with non other angry man. 

But right anon the worthy knight began, 
(Whan that he saw that all the peple lough) 
No more of this, for it is right ynough. 
Sire Pardoner, be mery and glad of chere ; 
And ye, sire hoste, that ben to me so dere, 
I pray you that ye kisse the Pardoner ; 12399 


Ami, Pardoner, I pray thee draw thee ner, 12900 
And as we diden, let us laugh and play. 
Anon they kissed, and riden forth hir way. 


OUR hoste upon his stirrops stode anon, 
And saide ; Good men, herkeneth everich on, 
This was a thrifty tale for the nones. 12905 

Sire parish preest, quod he, for Goddes bones, 
Tell us a tale, as was thy forward yore: 
I see wel that ye lerned men in lore 
Can mochel good, by Goddes dignitee. 

The Person him answerd, Benedicite ! 
What eileth the man, so sinfully to swere ? 

Our hoste answerd, O Jankin, be ye there? 
Now, good men, quod our hoste, herkneth to me. 
I smell a loller in the wind, quod he. 12914 

Abideth for Goddes digne passion, 
For we shul han a predication : 
This loller here wol prechen us somwhat. 

Nay by my fathers soule, that shal he nat, 
Sayde the Shipman, here shal he nat preche, 
He shal no gospel glosen here ne teche. 
We leven all in the gret God, quod he. 
He wolde so wen som difficultee, 12922 


Or springen cockle in our clene corne. i2*3 

And therfore, hoste, I warne thee beforne, 

My joly body shal a tale telle, 

And I shal clinken you so mery a belle, 

That I shal waken all this compagnie : 

But it shal not ben of philosophic, 

Ne of physike, ne termes queinte of lawe ; 

Ther is but litel Latin in my mawe. 12930 


A MARCH ANT whilom dwelled at Seint Denise, 
That riche was, for which men held him wise. 
A wif he had of excellent beautee, . 
And compaignable, and revelous was she, 
Which is a thing that causeth more dispence, 
Than worth is all the chere and reverence, 12936 
That men hem don at festes and at dances. 
Swiche salutations and contenances 
Passen, as doth a shadwe upon the wall : 
But wo is him that payen mote for all. 
The sely husbond algate he mote pay, 
He mote us clothe and he mote us array 
All for his owen worship richely : 
In which array we dancen jolily. 
And if that he may not paraventure, 12945 


Or elles lust not svviche dispence endure, 12946 

But thinketh it is wasted and ylost, 
Than mote another payen for our cost, 
Or lene us gold, and that is perilous. 

This noble Marchant held a worthy hous, 
For which he had all day so gret repaire 
For his largesse, and for his wif was faire, 
That wonder is : but herkeneth to my tale. 

Amonges all thise gestes gret and smale, 12954 
Ther was a Monk, a faire man and a bold, 
I trow a thritty winter he was old 
That ever in on was drawing to that place. 
This yonge Monk, that was so faire of face, 
Acquainted was so with this goode man, 
Sithen that hir firste knowlege began, 
That in his hous as familier was he, 
As it possible is any frend to be. 12.962 

And for as mochel as this goode man 
And eke this Monk, of which that I began, 
Were bothe two yborne in o village, 
The Monk him claimeth, as for cosinage, 
And he again him sayd not ones nay, 
But was as glad therof, as foule of day : 
For to his herte it was a gret plesance. 

Thus ben they knit with eterne alliance, 
And eche of hem gan other for to ensure 12971 


Of brotherhed, while that hir lif may dure. 12972 

Free was Dan John, and namely of dispence 
As in that hous, and ful of diligence 
To don plesance, and also gret costage": 
He not forgate to yeve the leste page 
In all that hous; but, after hir degree, 
He yave the lord, and sithen his meinee, 
Whan that he came, som maner honest thing; 
For which they were as glad of his coming 12930 
As foule is fayn, whan that the sonne up riseth. 
No more of this as now, for it suffiseth. 
But so befell, this Marchant on a day 
Shope him to maken redy his array 
Toward the toun of Brugges for to fare, 
To byen ther a portion of ware : 
For which he hath to Paris sent anon 
A messager, and praied hath Dan John 12988 

That he shuld come to Seint Denis, and pleie 
With him, and with his wif, a day or tweie, 
Or he to Brugges went, in alle wise. 

This noble Monk, of which I you devise, 
Hath of his Abbot, as him list, licence, 
(Because he was a man of high prudence, 
And eke an officer out for to ride, 
To seen hir granges, and hir bernes wide) 
And unto Seint Denis he cometh anon. 12997 


Who was so welcome as my lord Dan John, 12993 
Our dere cousin, ful of curtesie ? 
With him he brought a jubbe of Malvesie, 
And eke another ful of fine Vernage, 
And volatile, as ay was his usage : 
And thus I let hem etc, and drinke, and pleye, 
This marchant and this monk, a day or tweye. 

The thridde day this marchant up ariseth, 
And on his nedes sadly him aviseth: isooe 

And up into his countour hous goth he, 
To reken with himselven, wel may be, 
Of thilke yere, how that it with him stood, 
And how that he dispended had his good, 
And if that he encresed were or non. 
His bookes and his bagges many on 
He layth beforn him on his counting bord. 
Ful riche was his tresour and his hord; 13014 

For which ful fast his countour dore he shet ; 
And eke he n'olde no man shuld him let 
Of his accountes, for the mene time : 
And thus he sit, til it was passed prime. 

Dan John was risen in the morwe also, 
And in the gardin walketh to and fro, 
And hath his thinges sayd ful curteisly. 

This goode wif came walking prively 
Into the gardin, ther he walketh soft, 1.3023 


And him salueth, as she hath don oft : 13024 

A maiden child came in hire compagnie, 
Which as hire lust she may governe and gie, 
For yet under the yerde was the maide. 

O dere cosin min Dan John, she saide, 
What aileth you so rathe for to arise ? 

Nece, quod he, it ought ynough suffise 
Five houres for to slepe upon a night : 
But it were for an olde appalled wight, 13032 

As ben thise wedded men, that lie and dare, 
As in a fourme sitteth a wery hare, 
Were al forstraught with houndes gret and smale. 
But, dere nece, why be ye so pale ? 
I trowe certes, that our goode man 
Hath you laboured, sith this night began, 
That you were nede to resten hastily. 
And with that word he lough ful merily, 13040 

And of his owen thought he wexe all red. 
This faire wif gan for to shake hire hed, 
And saied thus ; Ye, God wote all, quod she. 
Nay, cosin min, it stant not so with me. 
For by that God, that yave me soule and lif, 
In all the reame of Fraunce is ther no wif, 
That lasse lust hath to that sory play : 
For I may singe alas and wala wa 
That I was borne, but to no wight (quod she) 13049 


Dare I not tell how that it stant with me. isoso 

Wherfore I thinke out of this lond to wende, 
Or elles of myself to make an ende, 
So ful am I of drede and eke of care. 

This monk began upon this wif to stare, 
And sayd, Alas! my nece, God forbede, 
That ye for any sorwe, or any drede, 
Fordo yourself : but telleth me your grefe, 
Paraventure I may in your mischefe isoss 

Conseile or helpe : and therfore telleth me 
All your annoy, for it shal ben secree. 
For on my Portos here I make an oth, 
That never in my lif, for lefe ne loth, 
Ne shal I of no conseil you bewray. 

The same agen to you, quod she, I say. 
By God and by this Portos I you swere, 
Though men me wolden all in peces tere, 13066' 
Ne shal I never, for to gon to helle, 
Bewrey o word of thing that ye me tell, 
Nought for no cosinage, ne alliance, 
But veraily for love and affiance. 
Thus ben they sworne, and hereupon they kiste, 
And eche of hem told other what hem liste. 

Cosin, quod she, if that I had a space, 
As I have non, and namely in this place, 
Than wold I tell a legend of my lif, 13075 


What I have suffred sith I was a wif 13076 

With min husbond, al be he your cosin. 

Nay, quod this monk, by God and Seint Martin, 
He n'is no more cosin unto me, 
Than is the leef that hangeth on the tree : 
I clepe him so by Seint Denis of France 
To han the more cause of acquaintance 
Of you, which I have loved specially 
Aboven alle women sikerly, 13034 

This swere I you on my professioun : 
Telleth your grefe, lest that he come adoun, 
And hasteth you, and goth away anon. 

My dere love, quod she, o my Dan John, 
Ful lefe were me this conseil for to hide, 
But out it mote, 1 may no lenger abide. 

Myn husbond is to me the werste man, 
That ever was sith that the world began : 13092 

But sith I am a wif, it sit not me 
To tellen no wight of our privetee, 
Neither in bed, ne in non other place; 
God shilde I shulde it tellen for his grace; 
A wif ne shal not sayn of hire husbond 
But all honour, as I can understond ; 
Save unto you thus moch I tellen shal : 
As helpe me God, he is nought worth at all, 
In no degree, the value of a flie. 13101 


But yet me greveth most his nigardie : 13102 

And wel ye wot, that women naturally 

Desiren thinges sixe, as wel as I. 

They wolden that hir husbondes shulden be 

Hardy, and wise, and riche, and therto free, 

And buxome to his wif, and fresh a-bedde. 

But by that ilke Lord that for us bledde, 

For his honour myselven for to array, 

A sonday next I muste nedes pay isno 

An hundred franks, or elles am I lorne. 

Yet were me lever that I were unborne, 

Than me were don a sclandre or vilanie. 

And if min husbond eke might it espie, 

I n'ere but lost ; and therefore I you prey 

Lene me this summe, or elles mote I dey. 

Dan John, I say, lene me this hundred frankes ; 

Parde I wol not faille you my thankes, 131 is 

If that you list to do that I you pray. 

For at a certain day I wol you pay, 

And do to you what plesance and service 

That I may don, right as you list devise : 

And but I do, God take on me vengeance, 

As foul as ever had Genelon of France. 

This gen til monk answerd in this manere; 
Now trewely, min owen lady dere, 
I have (quod he) on you so grete a routhe, 13127 


That I you swere, and plights you my trouthe, 13123 
That whan your husbond is to Flandres fare, 
I wol deliver you out of this care, 
For I wol bringen you an hundred frankes. 
And with that word he caught hire by the flankes, 
And hire embraced hard, and kiste hire oft. 
Goth now your way, quod he, al stille and soft, 
And let us dine as sone as that ye may, 
For by my kalender it is prime of day : 13136 

Goth now, and beth as trewe as I shal be. 
Now elles God forbede, sire, quod she ; 
And forth she goth, as joly as a pie, 
And bad the cokes that they shuld hem hie, 
So that men mighten dine, and that anon. 
Up to hire husbond is this wif ygon, 
And knocketh at his countour boldely. 
Qui est la ? quod he. Peter, it am I, 13144 

Quod she. What, sire, how longe wol ye fast? 
How longe time wol ye reken and cast 
Your summes, and your bookes, and your thinges ? 
The devil have part of all swiche rekeninges. 
Ye han ynongh parde of Goddes sonde. 
Come doun to-day, and let your bagges stonde. 
Ne be ye not ashamed, that Dan John 
Shal fasting all this day elenge gon? 
What ? let us here, a masse, and go we dine. 13153 


Wif, quod this man, litel canst thou divine 13154 
The curious besinesse that we have : 
For of us chapmen, all so God me save, 
And by that lord that cleped is Seint Ive, 
Scarsly amonges twenty, ten shul thrive 
Continuelly, lasting unto oure age. 
We moun wel maken chere and good visage, 
And driven forth the world as it may be, 
And kepen oure estat in privitee, 13162 

Til we be ded, or elles that we play 
A pilgrimage, or gon out of the way. 
And therfore have I gret necessitee 
Upon this queinte world to avisen me. 
For evermore mote we stond in drede 
Of hap and fortune in our chapmanhede. 

To Flandres wol I go to-morwe at day, 
And come agein as sone as ever I may : 13170 

For which, my dere wif. I thee beseke 
As be to every wight buxom and meke, 
And for to kepe our good be curious, 
And honestly governe wel our hous. 
Thou hast ynough, in every maner wise, 
That to a thrifty houshold may suffice. 
Thee lacketh non array, ne no vitaille ; 
Of silver in thy purse shait'thou not faille. 13178 
And with that word his countour dore he shette, 



And doun he goth ; no lenger wold he lette ; isiso 
And hastily a masse was ther saide, 
And spedily the tables were ylaide, 
And to the diner faste they hem spedde, 
And richely this monk the chapman fedde. 

And after diner Dan John sobrely 
This chapman toke apart, and prively 
He said him thus ; Cosin, it stondeth so, 
That, wel I see, to Brugges ye wol go, isiss 

God and Seint Austin spede you and gide. 
I pray you, cosin, wisely that ye ride; 
Governeth you also of your diete 
Attemprely, and namely in this hete. 
Betwix us two nedeth no strange fare ; 
Farewel, cosin, God shilde you fro care. 
If any thing ther be by day or night, 
If it lie in my power and my might, 13196 

That ye me wol command in any wise, 
It shal be don, right as ye wol devise. 

But o thing or ye go, if it may be, 
I wolde prayen you for to lene me 
An hundred frankes for a weke or tweye, 
For certain bestes that I muste beye, 
To storen with a place that is oures : 
(God helpe me so, I wold that it were y oures) 
I shal not faille surely of my day, 13205 


Not for a thousand frankes, a mile way. 13206 

But let this thing be secree, I you preye ; 
For yet to-night thise bestes mote I beye. 
And fare now wel, min owen cosin dere, 
Grand mercy of your cost and of your chere. 

This noble marchant gentilly anon 
Answerd and said, O cosin min Dan John, 
Now sikerly this is a smal requeste : 
My gold is youres, whan that it you leste, 13214 
And not only my gold, but my chaffare : 
Take what you lest, God shilde that ye spare. 
But o thing is, ye know it wel ynough 
Of chapmen, that hir money is hir plough. 
We moun creancen while we han a name, 
But goodies for to ben it is no game. 
Pay it agen, whan it lith in your ese ; 
After my might ful fayn wold I you plese. 13222 

Thise hundred frankes fet he forth anon, 
And prively he toke hem to Dan John : 
No wight in al this world wist of this lone, 
Saving this marchant, and Dan John alone. 
They drinke, and speke, and rome a while and pleye, 
Til that Dan John rideth to his abbey e. 

The morwe came, and forth this marchant rideth 
To Flandres ward, his prentis wel him gideth, 
Til he came in to Brugges merily. 13231 


Now goth this marchant faste and besily 13232 

About his nede, and bieth, and creanceth; 
He neither, playeth at the dis, ne danceth ; 
But as a marchant, shortly for to tell, 
He ledeth his lif, and ther I let him dwell. 

The sonday next the marchant was agon, 
To Seint Denis yeomen is Dan John, 
With croune and berde all fresh and newe yshave. 
In all the bous ther n'as so litel a knave, 13240 
Ne no wight elles, that he n'as ful fain, 
For that my lord Dan John was come again. 
And shortly to the point right for to gon, 
This faire-wif accordeth with Dan John, 
That for thise hundred frankes he shuld all night 
Haven hire in his armes bolt upright: 
And this accord parformed was in dede. 
In mirth all night a besy lif they lede 13248 

Til it was day, that Dan John yede his way, 
And bad the meinie farewel, have good day. 
For non of hem, ne no wight in the toun, 
Hath of Dan John right non suspectioun ; 
And forth he rideth home to his abbey, 
Or wher him liste, no more of him I sey. 

This marchant, whan that ended was the faire, 
To Seint Denis he gan for to repaire, 
And with his wif he maketh feste and chere, 13257 


And telleth hire that chaffare is so dere, 13258 

That nedes muste he make a chevisance, 

For he was bonde in a recognisance, 

To payen twenty thousand sheldes anon. 

For which this marchant is to Paris gon 

To borwe of certain frendes that he hadde 

A certain frankes, and som with him he ladde. 

And whan that he was come in to the toun, 

For gret chiertee and gret affectioun i326tf 

Unto Dan John he goth him first to pleye ; 

Not for to axe or borwe of him moneye, 

But for to wete and seen of his welfare, 

And for to tellen him of his chaffare, 

As frendes don, whan they ben mette in fere. 

Dan John him maketh feste and mery chere ; 
And he him tolde agen ful specially, 
How he had wel ybought and graciously 13274 

(Thanked be God) all hole his marchandise ; 
Save that he must in alle manere wise 
Maken a chevisance, as for his beste : 
And than he shulde ben in joye and reste, 
Dan John answered, Certes 1 am fain, 
That ye in hele be comen home again : 
And if that I were riche, as have I blisse, 
Of twenty thousand sheldes shuld ye not misse, 
For ye so kindely this other day 13283 


Lcnte me gold, and as I can and may 13284 

I thanke you, by God and by Seint Jame. 

But natheles I toke unto our Dame, 

Your wife at home, the same gold again 

Upon your benche, she wote it wel certain, 

By certain tokenes that I can hire tell. 

Now by your leve, I may no lenger dwell ; 

Our abbot wol out of this toun anon, 

And in his compagnie I muste gon. 18292 

Crete wel our dame, min owen nece swete, 

And farewel, dere cosin, til we mete. 

This marchant which that was ful ware and wise, 
Creanced hath, and paide eke in Paris 
To certain Lumbardes redy in hir hond 
The summe of gold, and gate of hem his bond, 
And home he goth, mery as a popingay. 
For wel he knew he stood in swiche array, 13300 
That nedes muste he winne in that viage 
A thousand frankes, above all his costage. 

His wif ful redy mette him at the gate, 
As she was wont of old usage algate : 
And all that night in mirthe they ben sette, 
For he was riche, and clerely out of dette. 
Whan it was day, this marchant gan enbrace 
His wif all newe, and kiste hire in hire face, 
And up he goth, and maketh it ful tough. issos 


No more, quod she, by God ye have ynough : 13310 
And wantonly agen with him she plaide, 
Til at the last this marchant to hire saide. 

By God, quod he, I am a litel wrothe 
With you, my wif, although it be me lothe : 
And wote ye why ? by God, as that I gesse, 
That ye han made a manere strangenesse 
Betwixen me and my cosin Dan John. 
Ye shuld have warned me, or I had gon, 13313 

That he you had an hundred frankes paide 
By redy token : and held him evil apaide, 
For that I to him spake of chevisance : 
(Me semed so as by his contenance) 
But natheles by God our heven king, 
I thoughte not to axe of him no thing. 
I pray thee, wif, ne do thou no more so. 
Tell me alway, er that I fro thee go, 13326 

If any dettour hath in min absence 
Ypaide thee, lest thurgh thy negligence 
I might him axe a thing that he hath paide. 

This wif was not aferde ne afFraide, 
But boldely she saide, and that anon ; 
Mary I defie that false monk Dan John, 
I kepe not of his tokenes never a del : 
He toke me certain gold, I wote it wel. 
What ? evil thedome on his monkes snoute : 12335 


For, God it wote, I wend withouten doute, 13336 

That he had yeve it me, because of you, 

To don therwith rain honour and my prow, 

For cosinage, and eke for belle chere 

That he hath had ful often times here. 

But sith I see I stonde in swiche disjoint, 

I wol answere you shortly to the point. 

Ye have mo slakke dettours than am I : 
For I wol pay you wel and redily 13344 

Fro day to day, and if so be I faille, 
I am your wif, score it upon my taile, 
And I shal pay as sone as ever I may. 
For by my trouth, I have on min array, 
And not in waste, bestowed it every del. 
And for I have bestowed it so wel 
For your honour, for Goddes sake I say, 
As beth not wrothe, but let us laugh and play.13352 
Ye shal my joly body han to wedde ; 
By God 1 n'ill not pay you but a-bedde : 
Foryeve it me, min owen spouse dere; 
Turne hitherward and maketh better chere. 

This marchant saw ther was no remedy : 
And for to chide, it n'ere but a foly, 
Sith that the thing may not amended be. 
Now, wif, he said, and I foryeve it thee ; 
But by thy lif ne be no more so large ; 


Kepe bet my good, this yeve I thee in charge. 13362 
Thus endeth now my tale, and God us sende 
Taling ynough, unto our lives ende. 


WEL said by corpus Domini, quod our Hoste," 
Now longe mote thou sailen by the coste, 
Thou gentil Maister, gentil Marinere 13367 

God give the monke a thousand last quad yere. 
A ha, felawes, beth ware of swiche a jape. 
The monke put in the mannes hode an ape, 
And in his wifes eke, by Seint Austin. 
Draweth no monkes more into your in. 

But now passe over, and let us seke aboute, 
Who shal now tellen first of all this route 
Another tale : and with that word he said, 13375 
As curteisly as it had ben a maid, 

My lady Prioresse, by your leve, 
So that I wist I shuld you not agreve, 
I wolde demen, that ye tellen shold 
A tale next, if so were that ye wold. 
Now wol ye vouchesauf, my lady dere ? 13331 

Gladly, quod she, and saide as ye shul here. 



O LORD our lord, thy name how merveillous 13333 
Is in this large world ysprad ! (quod she) 
For not al only thy laude precious 
Pafrfourmed is by men of dignitee, 
But by the mouth of children thy bountee 
Parfourmed is, for on the brest souking 13388 

Somtime shewen they thin herying. 

Wherfore in laude, as I can best and may, 
Of thee and of the white lily flour, 
Which that thee bare, and is a maide alway, 
To tell a storie I wol do my labour ; 
Not that I may encresen hire honour, 
For she hireselven is honour and rote 13395 

Of bountee, next hire sone, and soules bote . 

O mother maide, o maide and mother fre, 
O bushe unbrent, brenning in Moyses sight, 
That ravishedest doun fro the deitee, 
Thurgh thin humblesse, the gost that in thee alight : 
Of whos vertue, whan he thin herte light, 
Conceived was the fathers sapience : 
Helpe me to tell it in thy reverence. 13403 


Lady, thy bountee, thy magnificence, 
Thy vertue and thy gret humilitee, 
Ther may no tonge expresse in no science : 
For somtime, lady, or men pray to thee, 
Thou gost beforn of thy benignitee, 
And getest us the light of thy prayere, 
To giden us unto thy sone so dere. 

My conning is so weke, o blisful quene, 
For to declare thy grete worthinesse, 
That I ne may the weigh te not sustene ; 
But as a child of twelf moneth old or lesse, 
That can unnethes any word expresse, 
Right so fare I, and therfore I you pray, 
Gideth my song, that I shal of you say. 





THER was in Asie, in a gret citee, 
Amonges Cristen folk a Jevverie, 
Sustened by a lord of that contree, 
For foule usure, and lucre of vilanie, 
Hateful to Crist, and to his compagnie : 
And thurgh the strete men mighten ride and wende, 
For it was free, and open at eyther ende. 

A litel scole of Cristen folk ther stood 
Doun at the ferther ende, in which ther were 1342G 


Children an hepe comen of Cristen blood, 13427 
That lerned in that scole yere by yere, 
Swiche manere doctrine as men used there : 
This is to say, to singen and to rede, 
As smale children don in hir childhede. 

Among thise children was a widewes sone, 
A litel clergion, sevene yere of age, 
That day by day to scole was his wone, 13434 

And eke also, wheras he sey the image 
Of Cristes mbder, had he in usage, 
As him was taught, to, knele adoun, and say 
Ave Marie, as he goth by the way. 

Thus hath this widewe hire litel sone ytaught 
Our blisful Lady, Cristes moder dere, 
To worship ay, and he forgate it naught : 13441 
For sely child e wol alway sone lere. 
But ay, whan I remembre on this matere, 
Seint Nicholas stant ever in my presence, 
For he so yong to Crist did reverence. 

This litel childe his litel book lerning, 
As he sate in the scole at his primere, 
He Alma redemptoris herde sing, 
As children lered hir antiphonere : 13449 


And as he dorst, he drow him nere and nere, 13450 
And herkened ay the wordes and the note, 
Til he the firste vers coude al by rote. 

Nought wist he what this Latin was to say, 
For he so yonge and tendre was of age ; 
But on day his felaw gan he pray 
To expounden him this song in his langage, 
Or telle him why this song was in usage : 13457 
This prayde he him to construe and declare, 
Ful often time upon his knees bare. 

His felaw, which that elder was than he, 
Answerd him thus : This song, I have herd say, 
Was maked of our blisful Lady fre, . 
Hire to salue, and eke hire for to prey 
To ben our help and socour whan we dey. 13464 
I can no more expound in this matere : 
I lerne song, I can but smal grammere, 

And is this song maked in reverence 
Of Cristes moder? said this innocent; 
Now certes I wol don my diligence 
To conne it all, or Cristemasse be went, 
Though that I for my primer shal be shent, 
And shal be beten thries in an houre, 
I wol it conne, our Ladie for to honoure. 13473 


His felaw taught him homeward prively 13474 
Fro day to day, til he coude it by rote, 
And than he song it wel and boldely 
Fro word to word according with the note : 
Twies a day it passed thurgh his throte, 
To scoleward and homeward whan he wente : 
On Cristes moder set was his entente. 

As I have said, thurgout the Jewerie 13431 

This litel child as he came to and fro, 

Ful merily than wold he sing and crie, 

O Alma redemptoris, ever mo : 

The swetenesse hath his herte persed so 

Of Cristes moder, that to hire to pray 

He cannot stint of singing by the way. 

Our firste fo, the serpent Sathanas, 13488 

That hath in Jewes herte his waspes nest, 
Up swale and said, O Ebraike peple, alas ! 
Is this to you a thing that is honest, 
That swiche a boy shal walken as him leste 
Tn your despit, and sing of swiche sentence, 
Which is again our lawes reverence ? 

From thennesforth the Jewes han conspired 
This innocent out of this world to chace : 
An homicide therto han they hired, 13497 


That in an aleye had a privee place, 13498 

And as the child gan forthby for to pace, 
This cursed Jew him hent, and held him fast, 
And cut his throte, and in a pit him cast. 

I say that in a wardrope they him threwe, 
Wher as thise Jewes purgen hir entraille. 
O cursed folk, of Herodes alle newe, 
What may your evil entente you availle? issos 

Mordre wol out, certein it wol not faille, 
And namely ther the honour of God shal sprede : 
The blood out crieth on your cursed dede. 

O martyr souded in virginitee, 
Now maist thou singe, and folwen ever in on 
The white lamb celestial, quod she, 
Of which the gret Evangelist Seint John 13512 

In Pathmos wrote, which sayth that they that gon 
Beforn this lamb, and singe a song al newe, 
That never fleshly woman they ne knewe. 

This poure widevve awaiteth al that night 
After hire litel childe, and he came nought. 
For which as sone as it was dayes light, 
With face pale of drede and besy thought, 
She hath at scole and elles wher him sought, 13520 


Til finally she gan so fer aspie, 13521 

That he last seen was in the Jewerie. 

With modres pitee in hire brest enclosed 
She goth, as she were half out of hire minde, 
To every place, wher she hath supposed 
By likelihed hire litel child to finde : 
And ever on Cristes moder meke and kinde 
She cried, and at the laste thus she wrought, 13523 
Among the cursed Jewes she him sought. 

She freyneth, and she praieth pitously 
To every Jew that dwelled in thilke place, 
To telle hire, if hire child went ought forth by : 
They sayden, Nay ; but Jesu of his grace 
Yave in hire thought, within a litel space, 
That in that place after hire sone she cride, 13535 
Ther he was casten in a pit beside. 

O grete God, that parformest thy laude 
By mouth of innocentes, lo here thy might ! 
This gemme of chastitee, this emeraude, 
And eke of martirdome the rubie bright, 
Ther he with throte ycorven lay upright, 
He Alma redemptoris gan to singe 
So loude, that all the place gan to ringe. 13543 


The Cristen folk, that thurgh the strete wente, 13544 
In comen, for to wondre upon this thing : 
And hastifly they for the provost sente. 
He came anon withouten tarying, 
And herieth Crist, that is of heven king, 
And eke his moder, honour of mankind, 
And after that the Jewes let he binde. 

This child with pitous lamentation 13551 

Was taken up, singing his song alway : 
And with honour and gret procession, 
They carien him unto the next abbey. 
His moder swouning by the bere lay ; 
Unnethes might the peple that was there 
This newe Rachel bringen fro his bere. 

With turment, and with shameful beth eche on 
This provost doth thise Jewes for to sterve, issr.g 
That of this morder wiste, and that anon ; 
He n'olde no swiche cursednesse observe : 
Evil shal he have, that evil wol deserve. 
Therfore with wilde hors he did hem drawe, 
And after that he heng hem by the lawe. 

Upon his bere ay lith this innocent 
Beforn the auter while the masse last : 
VOL in. F 


And after that, the abbot with his covent 1356? 

Han spedde hem for to berie him ful fast : 

And whan they holy water on him cast, 

Yet spake this child, whan spreint was the holy water, 

And sang, o alma redemptoris mater. 

This abbot, which that was an holy man, 
As monkes ben, or elles ought to be, 
This yonge child to conjure he began, 13574 

And said ; O dere child, I halse thee 
In vertue of the holy Trinitee, 
Tell me what is thy cause for to sing, 
Sith that thy throte is cut to my seming. 

My throte is cut unto my nekke bon, 
Saide this child, and as by way of kinde 
I shuld have deyd, ye longe time agon : 
But Jesu Crist, as ye in bookes finde, 
Wol that his glory last and be in minde, 
And for the worship of his moder dere, 
Yet may I sing o alma loude and clere., 

This welle of mercie, Cristes moder swete, 
I loved alway, as after my conning : 
And whan that I my lif shulde forlete, 
To me she came, and bad me for to sing 13539 


This antem veraily in my dying, 13590 

As ye han herde, and, whan that I had songe, 
Me thought she laid a grain upon my tonge. 

Wherfore I sing, and sing I mote certain 
In honour of that blisful maiden free, 
Til fro my tonge of taken is the grain. 
And after that thus saide she to me ; 
My litel child, than wol I fetchen thee, 13597 

Whan that the grain is fro thy tong ytake : 
Be not agaste, I wol thee not forsake. 

This holy monk, this abbot him mene I, 
His tonge out caught, and toke away the grain ; 
And he yave up the gost ful softely. 
And whan this abbot had this wonder sein, 
His salte teres trilled adoun as reyne : 13604 

And groff he fell al platte upon the ground, 
And still he lay, as he had ben ybound. 

The covent lay eke upon the pavement 
Weping and herying Cristes moder dere. 
And after that they risen, and forth ben went, 
And toke away this martir fro his bere, 
And in a tombe of marble stones clere 
Enclosen they his litel body swete : 
Ther he is now, God lene us for to mete. 


O yonge Hew of Lincoln, slain also iseu 

With cursed Jewes, as it is notable, 
For it n'is but a litel while ago, 
Pray eke for us, We sinful folk unstable, 
That of his mercy God so merciable 
On us his grete mercie multiplie, 
For reverence of his moder Marie. aaeso 


WHAN said was this miracle, every man 
As sober was, that wonder was to see, 
Til that our hoste to japen he began, 
And than at erst he loked upon me, 
And saide thus ! What man art thou? quod he. 
Thou lokest, as thou woldest finde an hare, 13626 
For ever upon the ground I see thee stare. 

Approche nere, and loke up merily. 
Now ware you, sires, and let this man have place. 
He in the waste is shapen as wel as I : 
This were a popet in an arme to enbrace 
For any woman, smal and faire of face. 
He semeth elvish by his contenance, 
For unto no wight doth he daliance. 13634 


Say now somwhat, sin other folk ban saide ; 13635 
Tell us a tale of mirthe and that anon. 
Hoste, quod I, ne be not evil apaide, 
For other tale certes can I non, 
But of a rime I lerned yore agon. 
Ye, that is good, quod he, we shullen here 
Som deintee thing, me thinketh by thy chere. 13641 


LISTENETH, lordinges, in good entent, 
And I wol tel you verament 

Of mirthe and of solas, 
Al of a knight was faire and gent 
In bataille and in turnament, 

His name was sire Thopas. is 647 

Yborne he was in fer contree, 
In Flandres, al beyonde the see, 

At Popering in the place, 
His father was a man ful free, 
And lord he was of that contree, 

As it was Goddes grace. 

Sire Thopas was a doughty swain, 

White was his face as paindemaine 13655 


His lippes red as rose. \3656 

His rudde is like scarlet in grain, 
And I you tell in good certain 

He had a semely nose. 

His here, his herde, was like safroun, 
That to his girdle raught adoun, 

His shoon of cordewane ; 

Of Brugges were his hosen broun ; 13663 

His robe was of chekelatouu, 

That coste many a jane. 

He coude hunt at the wilde dere, 
And ride on hauking for the rivere , 

With grey goshauk on honde : 
Therto he was a good archere, 
Of wrastling was ther non his pere, 13670 

Ther ony ram shuld stonde. 

Ful many a maide bright in bour 
They mourned for him par amour, 

Whan hem were bet to slepe ; 
But he was chaste and no lechour, 
And swete as is the bramble flour, 

That bereth the red hepe. 13677 


And so it fell upon a day, 1367* 

Forsoth, as I you tellen may, 

Sire Thopas wold out ride ; 
He worth upon his stede gray, 
And in his hond a launcegay, 

A long swerd by his side. 

He priketh thurgh a faire forest, 

Therin is many a wilde best, isess 

Ye bothe buck and hare, 
And as he priked North and Est, 
I telle it you, him had almeste 

Betidde a sory care. 

Ther springen herbes grete and smale, 
The licoris and the setewale, 

And many a cloue gilofre, 13692 

And notemuge to put in ale, 
Whether it be moist or stale, 

Or for to lain in cofre. 

The briddes singen, it is no nay, 
The sperhauk and the popingay, 

That joye it was to here, 
The throstel cok made eke his lay, 


The wode dove upon the spray 13700 

He sang ful loude and clere. 

Sire Thopas fell in love-longing 
Al whan he herd the throstel sing. 

And priked as he were wood ; 
His faire stede in his priking 
So s watte, that men might him wring, 

His sides were al blood. 13707 

Sire Thopas eke so wery was 
For priking on the softe gras, 

So fiers was his corage, 
That doun he laid him in that place 
To maken his stede som solace, 

And yaf him good forage. 13713 

A, Seinte Mary, benedicite, 
What aileth this love at me 

To binde me so sore ? 
Me dremed all this night parde, 
An elf quene shal my lemman be, 

And slepe under my gore. 

An elf quene wol 1 love ywis, 

For in this world no woman is 13721 


Worthy to be my make || in toun, 13722 

All other women I forsake, 
And to an elf quene I me take 

By dale and eke by doun. 


Into his sadel he clombe anon, 
And priked over stile and ston 

An elf quene for to espie, 

Til he so long had ridden and gone, 13729 

That he fond in a privee wone 

The contree of Faerie. 

Wherin he soughte North and South, 
And oft he spied with his mouth 

In many a forest wilde, 
For in that contree n'as ther non, 
That to him dorst ride or gon, 13736 

Neither wif ne childe. 

Til that ther came a gret geaunt, 
His name was Sire Oliphaunt, 

A perilous man of dede, 
He sayde, Child, by Termagaunt, 
But if thou prike out of myn haunt, 

Anon I slee thy stede || with mace 
Here is the Quene of Faerie, 13744 


With harpe^ and pipe, and simphonie, 13745 

Dwelling in this place. 

The child sayd, Al so mote I the, 
To morwe wol I meten thee, 

Whan I have min armoure, 
And yet 1 hope par ma fay, 
That thou shalt with this launcegay 

Abien it ful soure; |j thy mawe 13752 

Shal I perce, if I may, 
Or it be fully prime of the day, 

For here thou shalt be slawe. 

Sire Thopas drow abak ful fast ; 
This geaunt at him stones cast 

Out of a fel staffe sling : 

But faire escaped child Thopas, 13759 

And all it was thurgh Goddes grace, 

And thurgh his faire bering. 

Yet listeneth, lordings, to my tale, 
Merier than the nightingale, 

For now I wol you roune, 
How Sire Thopas with sides smale, 
Priking over hill and dale, 

Is comen agein to toune. 13767 


His mery men commandeth he, 13768 

To maken him bothe game and gle, 

For nedes must he fighte, 
With a geaunt with hedes three, 
For paramour and jolitee 

Of on that shone ful brighte, 

Do come, he sayd, my minestrales 

And gestours for to tellen tales 13775 

Anon in min arming, 
Of romaunces that ben reales, 
Of popes and of cardinales, 

And eke of love-longing. 

They fet him first the swete win, 
And mede eke in a maselin, 

And real spicerie, 13782 

Of ginger-bred that was ful fin, 
And licoris and eke comin, 

With suger that is trie. 

He didde next his white lere 
Of cloth of lake fin and clere 
A breche and eke a sherte, 
And next his sherte and haketon, 13789 


And over that an habergeon, 13790 

For percing of his herte, 

And over that a fin hauberk, 
Was all ywrought of Jewes werk. 

Ful strong it was of plate, 
And over that his cote-armoure, 
As white as is the lily floure, 

In which he wold debate. 13797 

His sheld was all of gold so red, 
And therin was a bores hed, 

A charboucle beside ; 
And ther he swore on ale and bred 
How that the geaunt shuld be ded, 

Betide what so betide. issos- 

His jambeux were of cuirbouly. 
His swerdes sheth of ivory, 

His helme of latoun bright, 
His sadel was of rewel bone, 
His bridel as the sonne shone, 

Or as the mone light. 

His spere was of fin cypres, 

That bodeth werre, and nothing pees, issn 


The bed ful sharpe y ground. 13312 

His stede was all dapple gray, 
It goth an aumble in the way 

Ful softely and round || in londe 
Lo, Lordes min, here is a fit ; 
If ye wol ony more of it, 

To telle it wol I fond. 

Now hold your mouth pour charite, 13819 

Bothe knight and lady fre, 

Arid herkeneth to my spell, 
Of bataille and of chevalrie, 
Of ladies love and druerie, 

Anon I wol you tell. 

Men speken of romaunces of pris, 

Of Hornchild, and of Ipotis, issse 

Of Bevis, and Sire Guy, 
Of Sire Libeux, and Pleindamour, 
But Sire Thopas, he bereth the flour 

Of real chevalrie. 

His goode stede he al bestrode, 
And forth upon his way he glode, 

As sparcle out of bronde ; 
Upon his crest he bare a tour, 1.3334 


And therin stiked a lily flour, 13835 

God shilde his corps fro shonde. 

And for he was a knight auntrous, 
He n'olde slepen in non hous, 

But Hggen in his hood, 
His brighte helm was his wanger, 
And by him baited his destrer 

Of herbes fin and good. 13842 

Himself drank water of the well, 
And did the knight Sire Percivell 

So worthy under wede, 
Til on a day 


No more of this for Goddes dignitee, 13347 

Quod oure hoste, for thou makest me 
So wery of thy veray lewednesse, 
That al so wisly God my soule blesse, 
Min eres aken of thy drafty speche. 
Now swiche a rime the devil I beteche ; 
This may wel be rime dogerel, quod he. 

Why so ? quod I, why wolt thou letten me 
More of my tale, than an another man, 13355 


Sin that it is the beste rime I can ? 13856 

By God, quod he, for plainly at o word, 

Thy drafty riming is not worth a tord : 

Thou dost nought elles but dispendest time. 

Sire, at o word, thou shalt no lenger rime. 

Let see wher thou canst tellen ought in geste, 

Or tellen in prose somwhat at the leste, 

In which ther be som mirthe or som doctrine. 
Gladly, quod I, by Goddes swete pine 13864 

I wol you tell a litel thing in prose, 

That oughte liken you, as I suppose, 

Or elles certes ye be to dangerous. 

It is a moral tale vertuous, 

Al be it told somtime in sondry wise 

Of sondry folk, as I shal you devise. 
As thus, ye wote that every Evangelist, 

That telleth us the peine of Jesu Crist, 13372 

Ne saith not alle thing as his felaw doth: 

But natheles hir sentence is al soth, 

And alle accorden as in hir sentence, 

Al be ther in hir telling difference : 

For som of hem say more, and som say lesse, 

Whan they his pitous passion expresse ; 

I mene of Mark and Mathew, Luke and John, 

But douteles hir sentence is all on. 

Therfore, lordinges all, I you beseche, 


If that ye thinke I vary in my speche, 13882 

As thus, though that I telle som del more 

Of proverbes, than ye han herde before 

Comprehended in this litel tretise here, 

To enforcen with the effect of my matere, 

And though I not the same wordes say 

As ye han herde, yet to you alle I pray issss 

Blameth me not, for, as in my sentence, 

Shul ye nowher finden no difference 

Fro the sentence of thilke tretise lite, 

After the which this mery tale I write. 

And therfore herkeneth what I shal say, 

And let me tellen all my tale I pray. 13394 


A YONGE man called Melibeus, mighty and riche, 
begate upon his wif, that called was Prudence, a 
doughter which that called was Sophie. 

Upon a day befell, that he for his disport is went 
into the feldes him to playe. His wif and eke his 
doughter hath he laft within his hous, of which the 
dores weren fast yshette. Foure of his olde foos 
han it espied, and setten ladders to the walles of 
his hous, and by the windowes ben entred, and 
beten his wif, and wounded his doughter with five 


mortal woundes, in five sondry places ; this is to 
say, in hire feet, in hire hondes, in hire eres, in hire 
nose, and in hire mouth ; and leften hire for dede, 
and wenten away. 

Whan Melibeus retorned was into his hous, and 
sey al this meschief, he, like a mad man, rending 
his clothes, gan to wepe and crie. 

Prudence his wif, as fer forth as she dorste be 
sought him of his weping for to stint: but not 
forthy he gan to crie and wepen ever lenger the 

This noble wif Prudence remembred hire upon 
the sentence of Ovide, in his book that cleped is 
the Remedie of love, wheras he saith ; he is a fool 
that distourbeth the moder to wepe, in the deth of 
hire childe, til she have wept hire fille, as for a 
certain time: and than shal a man don his dili 
gence with amiable wordes hire to reconforte and 
preye hire of hire weping for to stinte. For which 
reson this noble wif Prudence suffred hire housbond 
for to wepe and crie, as fora certain space ; and whan 
she saw hire time, she sayde to him in this wise. 
Alas ! my lord, quod she, why make ye youreself for 
to be like a fool ? Forsothe it apperteineth not to a 
wise man, to maken swiche a sorwe. Youre 
doughter, with the grace of God, shal warish and 



escape. And al were it so that she right now were 
dede, ye ne ought not as for hire deth youreself to 
destroye. Senek saith ; the wise man shal not take 
to gret discomfort for the deth of his children, but 
certes he shulde suffren it in patience, as wel as he 
abideth the deth of his owen propre persone. 

This Melibeus answered anon and saide : what 
man (quod he) shulde of his weping stinte, that 
hath so gret a cause for to wepe ? Jesu Crist, our 
Lord, himself wepte for the deth of Lazarus his 
frend. Prudence answered ; certes wel I wote, 
attempre weping is nothing defended, to him that 
sorweful is, among folk in sorwe, but it is rather 
graunted him to wepe. The Apostle Poule unto 
the Romaines writeth ; man shal rejoyce with hem 
that maken joye, and wepen with swiche folk as we- 
pen. But though attrempre weping be ygranted, out 
rageous weping certes is defended. Mesure of we 
ping shulde be considered, after the lore that techeth 
us Senek. Whan that thy frend is dede (quod he) 
let not thin eyen to moiste ben of teres, ne to 
muche drie : although the teres comen to thin eyen, 
let hem not falle. And whan thou hast forgon thy 
frend, do diligence to get agein another frend: 
and this is more wisdom than for to wepe for thy 
frend, which that thou hast lorne, for therin is no 


bote. And therfore if ye governe you by sapience, 
put away sorwe out of your herte. Remembreth 
you that Jesus Sirak sayth ; a man that is joyous 
and glad in herte, it him conserveth florishing in 
his age : but sothly a sorweful herte maketh his 
bones drie. He saith eke thus, that sorwe in herte 
sleeth ful many a man. Salomon sayth, that right 
as mouthes in the shepes fleese anoien to the 
clothes, and the smale wormes to the tree, right so 
anoieth sorwe to the herte of man. Wherfore us 
ought as wel in the deth of oure children, as in the 
the losse of oure goodes temporel, have patience. 

Remembre you upon the patient Job, whan he 
hadde lost his children and his temporel sub- 
staunce, and in his body endured and received ful 
many a grevous tribulation, yet sayde he thus : 
Oure Lord hath yeve it to me, oure Lord hath be- 
raft it me ; right as oure Lord hath wold, right so is 
it don ; yblessed be the name of oure Lord. To 
thise foresaide thinges answered Melibeus unto his 
wif Prudence : all thy wordes (quod he) ben trewe, 
and therto profitable, but trewely min herte is 
troubled with this sorwe so grevously, that I n'ot 
what to don. Let calle (quod Prudence) thyn 
trewe frendes alle, and thy linage, which that ben 
wise, and telleth to hem your cas, and herkeneth 


what they saye in conseilling, and governe you 
after hir sentence. Salomon saith ; werke all thiriges 
by conseil, and thou shalt never repente. 

Than, by conseil of his wif Prudence, this Meli- 
beus let callen a gret congregation of folk, as sur- 
giens, phisiciens, olde folk and yonge, and som of 
his olde enemies reconciled (as by hir semblant) to 
his love and to his grace : and therwithal ther comen 
some of his neigheboures, that diden him reverence 
more for drede than for love, as it happeth oft. 
Ther comen also ful many subtil flaterers, and wise 
Advocats lerned in the lawe. 

And whan thise folk togeder assembled weren, 
this Melibeus in sorweful wise shewed hem his cas, 
and by the manere of his speche, it semed that in 
herte he bare a cruel ire, redy to don vengeaunce 
upon his foos, and sodeinly desired that the werre 
shulde beginne, but natheles yet axed he his con 
seil upon this matere. A surgien, by licence and 
assent of swiche as weren wise, up rose, and unto 
Melibeus sayde, as ye moun here. 

Sire, (quod he) as to us surgiens apperteineth, 
that we do to every wight the beste that we can, 
whet as we ben withholden, and to our patient that 
we do no damage : wherfore it happeth many time 
and ofte, that whan twey men han everich wounded 


other, o same surgien heleth hem both, wherfore 
unto our art it is not pertinent to norice werre, ne 
parties to supporte. But certes, as to the warish- 
ing of youre doughter, al be it so that perilously she 
be wounded, we shuln do so ententif besinesse fro 
day to night, that with the grace of God, she shal 
be hole and sound, as sone as is possible. Almost 
right in the same wise the phisiciens answerden, 
save that they saiden a fewe wordes more : that 
right as maladies ben cured by hir contraries, right 
so shal man warishe werre. His neigheboures ful 
of envie, his feined frendes that semed reconciled, 
and his flaterers, maden semblant of weping, and 
empeired and agregged muchel of this matere, in 
preysing gretly Melibee of might, of power, of 
richesse, and of frendes, despising the power of his 
adversaries : and saiden outrely, that he anon shulde 
wreken him on his foos, and beginnen werre. 

Up rose than an Advocat that was wise, by leve 
and by conseil of other that were wise, and sayde : 
Lordinges, the nede for the which we ben assembled 
in this place, is a ful hevie thing, and an heigh ma 
tere, because of the wrong and of the wikkednesse 
that hath be don, and eke by reson of the grete 
damages, that in time coming ben possible to fallen 
for the same cause, and eke by reson of the gret 


richesse and power of the parties bothe, for the 
which resons, it were a ful gret peril to erren in this 
matere. \Vherfore, Melibeus, this is oure sentence ; 
we conseille you, aboven alle thing, that right anon 
thou do thy diligence in keping of thy propre per- 
sone, in swiche a wise that thou ne want non espie 
ne watche, thy body for to save. And after that, 
we conseille that in thin hous thou sette suffisant 
garnison, so that they moun as wel thy body as thy 
hous defende. But certes for to meeven werre, ne 
sodenly for to do vengeaunce, we moun not deme in 
so litel time that it were profitable. Wherfore we 
axen leiser and space to have deliberation in this 
cas to deme ; for the comune proverbe saith thus ; 
He that sone demeth, sone shal repente. And eke 
men sain, that thilke juge is wise, that sone under- 
stondeth a matere, and jugeth by leiser. For al be 
it so, that al tarying be anoiful, algates it is not to 
repreve in yeving of jugement, ne in vengeance 
taking, whan it is suffisant and resonable. And 
that shewed our Lord Jesu Crist by ensample, for 
whan that the woman that was taken in advoutrie? 
was brought in his presence to knowen what shuld 
be don with hire persone, al be it that he wist wel 
himself what that he wolde an s were, yet ne wolde 
he not answere sodeinly, but he wolde have deli- 


beration, and in the ground he wrote twies ; and by 
thise causes we axen deliberation : and we shuln 
than by the grace of God conseille the thing that 
shal be profitable. 

Up sterte than the younge folk at ones, and the 
most partie of that compagnie han scorned this olde 
wise man, and begonnen to make noise and saiden ; 
Right so as while that iren is hot men shulde smite, 
right so men shuln do wreken hir wronges, while 
that they ben freshe and newe : and with loude voys 
they criden werre, werre. Up rose tho on of thise 
olde wis^e, and with his hand made countenaunce , 
that men shuld holde hem stille, and yeve him au 
dience. Lordinges, (quod he) ther is ful many a 
man that crieth werre, werre, that wote ful litel 
what werre amounteth. Werre at his beginning 
hath so gret an entring and so large, that every 
wight may enter whan him liketh, and lightly find 
werre : but certes what end that shal befalle, it is 
not light to know. For sothly whan that werre is 
ones begonne, ther is ful many a child unborne of 
his moder, that shal sterve yong, by cause of thilke 
werre, other elles live in sorwe, and dien in wretch- 
ednesse : and therfore or that any werre be begonne, 
men must have gret conseil and gret deliberation. 
And whan this olde man wende to enforcen his tale 


by resons, wel nie alle at ones begonne they to 
rise, for to breken his tale, and bidden him ful oft 
his wordes for to abregge. For sothly he that 
precheth to hem that listen not heren his wordes, 
his sermon hem anoieth. For Jesus Sirak sayth? 
that musike in weping is a noious thing. This is to 
sayn, as muche availleth to speke beforn folk to 
which his speche anoieth, as to singe beforne him 
that wepeth. And whan this wise man saw that 
him wanted audience, al shamefast he sette him 
doun agein. For Salomon saith : ther as thou ne 
mayst have non audience, enforce thee not to speke. 
I see wel, (quod this wise man) that the comune 
proyerbe is soth, that good conseil wanteth, whan it 
is most nede. 

Yet had this Melibeus in his conseil many folk, 
that prively in his ere conseilled him certain thing, 
and conseilled him the contrary in general audience 
Whan Melibeus had herd that the gretest partie of 
his conseil were accorded that he shulde make 
werre, anon he consented to hire conseilling, and 
fully affermed hir sentence. Than dame Prudence, 
whan that she saw how that hire hosbonde shope 
him for to awreke him on his foos, and to beginne 
werre, she in ful humble wise, whan she saw hire 
time, sayde him these wordes ; my lord, (quod she) 


I you beseche as hertly as I dare and can, ne haste 
you not to faste, and for alle guerdons as yeve me 
audience. For Piers Alphonse sayth; who so that 
doth to thee outher good or harme, haste thee not 
to quite it, for in this wise thy frend wol abide, and 
thin enemie shal the lenger live in drede. The pro- 
verbe sayth ; he hasteth wel that wisely can abide : 
and in wikked hast is no profite. 

This Melibee answered unto his wif Prudence : I 
purpose not (quod he) to werken by thy conseil, for 
many causes and resons; for certes every wight 
wold hold me than a fool; this is to sayn, if I for 
thy conseilling wolde change thinges, that ben or- 
deined and affirmed by so many wise men. Se 
condly, I say, that all women ben wicke, and non 
good of hem all. For of a thousand men, saith 
Salomon, I found o good man : but certes of alle 
women good woman found I never. And also certes, 
if I governed me by thy conseil, it shulde seme that 
I had yeve thee over me the maistrie : and God for- 
bede that it so were. For Jesus Sirak sayth, that 
if the wif have the maistrie, she is contrarious to 
hire husbond. And Salomon sayth ; never in thy 
lif to thy wif, ne to thy childe, ne to thy frend, ne 
yeve no power over thy self: for better it were that 
thy children axe of thee thinges that hem nedeth, 


than thou see thy self in the handes of thy children. 
And also if I wol werche by thy conseilling, certes 
it must be somtime secree, till it were time that it 
be knowen ; and this ne may not be, if I shulde be 
conseilled by thee. [For it is written ; the janglerie 
of women ne can no thing hide, save that which they 
wote not. After the Philosophre sayth ; in wikked 
conseil women venquishen men ; and for thise re- 
sons I ne owe not to be conseilled by thee.] 

Whan dame Prudence, ful debonairly and with 
gret pacience, had herd all that hire housbonde 
liked for to say, than axed she of him licence for 
to speke, and sayde in this wise. My lord (quod 
she) as to your first reson, it may lightly ben an- 
swerd : for I say that it is no folie to chaunge con 
seil whan the thing is chaunged, or elles whan the 
thing semeth otherwise than it semed afore. And 
moreover I say, though that ye have sworne and 
behight to performe your emprise, and nevertheles 
ye weive to performe thilke same emprise by just 
cause, men shuld not say therfore ye were a Iyer, 
ne forsworn : for the book sayth, that the wise man 
maketh no lesing, whan he turneth his corage for 
the better. And al be it that your emprise be es 
tablished and ordeined by gret multitude of folk 
yet thar you not accomplish thilke ordinance but 


you liketh : for the trouthe of thinges, and the pro 
fit, ben rather founden in fewe folk that ben wise 
and ful of reson, than by gret multitude of folk, 
ther every man cryeth and clattereth what him 
liketh : sothly swiche multitude is not honest. As 
to the second reson, wheras ye say, that alle women 
ben wicke : save your grace, certes ye despise alle 
women in this wise, and he that all despiseth, as 
saith the book, all displeseth. And Senek saith, 
that who so wol have sapience, shal no man dis- 
preise, but he shal gladly teche the science that he 
can, without presumption or pride : and swiche 
thinges as he nought can, he shal not ben ashamed 
to lere hem, and to enquere of lesse folk than him 
self. And, Sire, that ther hath ben ful many a 
good woman, may lightly be preved : for certes, 
Sire, our Lord Jesu Crist n'olde never han de 
scended to be borne of a woman, if all women had 
be wicked. And after that, for the gret bountee 
that is in women, our Lord Jesu Crist, whan he was 
risen from deth to lif, appered rather to a woman 
than to his Apostles. And though that Salomon 
sayde, he found never no good woman, it folweth 
not therfore, that all women be wicked : for though 
that he ne found no good woman, certes many an 
other man hath founde many a woman ful good and 


trewe. Or elles peraventure the entent of Salomon 
was this, that in soveraine bountee he found no 
woman ; this is to say, that ther is no wight that 
hath soveraine bountee, save God alone, as he 
himself recordeth in his Evangelies. For ther is no 
creature so good, that him ne wanteth somwhat of 
the perfection of God that is his maker. Youre 
thridde reson is this; ye say that if that ye go- 
verne you by my conseil, it shulde seme that ye 
had yeve me the maistrie and the lordship of your 
person. Sire, save your grace, it is not so ; for if 
so were that no man shulde be conseilled but only 
of hem that han lordship and maistrie of his person, 
men n'olde not be conseilled so often : for sothly 
thilke man that asketh conseil of a purpos, yet 
hath he free chois whether he wol werke after that 
conseil or non. And as to your fourth reson, ther 
as ye sain that the janglerie of women can hide 
thinges that they wot not ; as who so sayth, that a 
woman can not hide that she wote ; Sire, thise 
wordes ben understonde of women that ben jan- 
gleresses and wicked ; of which women men sain 
that three thinges driven a man out of his hous y 
that is to say, smoke, dropping of raine, and wicked 
wives. And of swiche women Salomon sayth, That 
a man were better dwell in desert, than with a wo- 


man that is riotous. And, sire, by your leve, that 
am not I ; for ye have ful often assaied my gret 
silence and my gret patience, and eke how wel that 
I can hide and hele thinges, that men oughten 
secretly to hiden. And sothly as to your fifthe re- 
son, wheras ye say, that in wicked conseil women 
venquishen men ; God wote that thilke reson stant 
here in no stede : for understondeth now, ye axen 
conseil for to do wickednesse ; and if ye wol werken 
wickednesse, and your wif restraineth thilke wicked 
purpos, and overcometh you by reson and by good 
conseil, certes your wif ought rather to be preised 
than to be blamed. Thus shulde ye understonde 
the philosophre that sayth, In wicked conseil wo 
men venquishen hir husbondes. And ther as ye 
blamen all women and hir resons, I shal shewe you 
by many ensamples, that many women have ben 
ful good, and yet ben, and hir conseil holesome and 
profitable. Eke som men han sayd, that the con 
seil of women is either to dere, or elles to litel of 
pris. But al be it so that ful many a woman be 
bad, and hire conseil vile and nought worth, yet 
han men founden ful many a good woman, and dis 
crete and wise in conseilling. Lo, Jacob, thurgh 
the good conseil of his mother Rebecke, wan the 
benison of his father, and the lordship over all his 


brethren. Judith, by hire good conseil, the citee of 
Bethulie, in which she dwelt, out of the honde of 
Holofern, that had it beseged, and wolde it al des- 
troye. Abigail delivered Nabal hire housbond fro 
David the king, that wolde han slain him, and ap- 
pesed the ire of the king by hire wit, and by hire 
good conseilling. Hester by hire conseil enhaunced 
gretly the peple of God, in the regne of Assuerus the 
king. And the same bountee in good conseilling of 
many a good woman moun men rede and tell. And 
further more, whan that oure Lord had created Adam 
oure forme father, he sayd in this wise ; it is not 
good to be a man allone : make we to him an helpe 
semblable to himself. Here moun ye see that if 
that women weren not good, and hir conseil good 
and profitable, oure Lord God of heven wolde 
neither han wrought hem, ne called hem helpe 
of man, but rather confusion of man. And ther 
sayd a clerk ones in two vers ; what is better than 
gold? Jaspre. What is better than jaspre? wis 
dom. And what is better than wisdom? woman. 
And what is better than a good woman ? nothing. 
And, Sire, by many other resons moun ye seen, 
that many women ben good, and hir conseil good 
and profitable. And therfore, Sire, if ye wol troste 
to my conseil, I shal restore you your doughter 


hole and sound : and I wol don to you so muche, 
that ye shuln have honour in this cas. 

Whan Melibee had herd the wordes of his wif 
Prudence, he sayd thus : I se wel that the word of 
Salomon is soth ; for he saith, that wordes, that 
ben spoken discretly by ordinaunce, ben honie- 
combes, for they yeven swetenesse to the soule, and 
holsomnesse to the body. And, wif, because of 
thy swete wordes, and eke for I have preved and 
assaied thy grete sapience and thy grete trouthe, I 
wol governe me by thy conseil in alle thing. 

Now, Sire, (quod dame Prudence) and sin that 
ye vouchesafe to be governed by my conseil I wol 
enforme you how that ye shuln governe yourself, 
in chesing of youre conseillours. Ye shuln first in 
alle your werkes mekely besechen to the heigh 
God, that he wol be your conseillour : and shapeth 
you to swiche entente that he yeve you conseil and 
comforte, as taught Tobie his sone ; at alle times 
thou shalt blesse God, and preie him to dresse thy 
wayes ; and loke that alle thy conseils ben in him 
for evermore. Saint James eke sayth ; if any of 
you have nede of sapience, axe it of God. And 
afterwarde, than shullen ye take conseil in your 
self, and examine wel your owen though tes, of 
swiche thinges as you thinketh that ben best for 


your profit. And than shuln ye drive fro your 
herte three thinges that ben contrarious to good 
conseil ; that is to sayn, ire, coveitise, and ha- 

First, he that axeth conseil of himself, certes he 
must be withouten ire, for many causes. The first 
is this : he that hath gret ire and wrath in himself, 
he weneth alway that he may do thing that he may 
not do. And secondly, he that is irous and wroth, 
he may not wel deme : and he that may not wel 
deme, may not wel conseille. The thridde is this ; 
he that is irous and wroth, as sayth Senek, ne may 
not speke but blameful thinges, and with his vi 
cious wordes he stirreth other folk to anger and to 
ire. And eke, Sire, ye must drive coveitise out of 
your herte. For the Apostle sayth, that coveitise 
is the rote of alle harmes. And trosteth wel, that 
a coveitous man ne can not deme ne thinke, but 
only to fulfille the ende of his coveitise ; and 
certes that ne may never ben accomplised ; for ever 
the more haboundance that he hath of richesse, the 
more he desireth. And, Sire, ye must also drive 
out of youre herte hastinesse : for certes ye ne 
moun not deme for the beste a soden thought that 
falleth in your herte, but ye must avise you on it 
ful ofte : for as ye have herde herebeforn, the com- 


mime proverbe is this ; he that sone demeth, sone 

Sire, ye ne be not alway in like disposition, for 
certes som thing that somtime semeth to you that 
it is good for to do, another time it semeth to you 
the contrarie. 

And whan ye han taken conseil in yourself, and 
han denied by good deliberation swiche thing as 
you semeth beste, than rede I you that ye kepe it 
secree. Bewreye not your conseil to no persone, 
but if so be that ye wenen sikerly, that thurgh 
youre bewreying youre condition shal ben to you 
more profitable. For Jesus Sirak saith : neither to 
thy foo ne to thy frend discover not thy secree, ne 
thy folie: for they woln yeve you audience and 
loking, and supportation in youre presence, and 
scorne you in youre absence. Another clerk sayth, 
that scarsly shalt thou finden any persone that may 
kepe thy conseil secrely. The book sayth ; while 
that thou kepest thy conseil in thin herte, thou 
kepest it in thy prison : and whan thou bewreyest 
thy conseil to any wight, he holdeth thee in his 
snare. And therfore you is better to hide your 
conseil in your herte, than to preye him to whom 
ye han bewreyed youre conseil, that he wol kepe it 
close and stille. For Seneca sayth: if so be that 

VOL. III. H ' 


thou ne mayst not thin owen conseil hide, how 
darest thou preyen any other wight thy conseil se- 
crely to kepe ? but natheles, if thou wene sikerly 
that thy bewreying of thy conseil to a persone wol 
make thy condition to stonden in the better plight, 
than shalt thou telle him thy conseil in this wise. 
First, thou shalt make no semblant whether thee 
were lever pees or werre, or this or that ; ne shewe 
him not thy will ne thin entente : for troste wel 
that communly these conseillours ben flaterers, 
namely the conseillours of grete lordes, for they en- 
forcen hem alway rather to speken plesant wordes 
enclining to the lordes lust, than wordes that ben 
trewe or profitable : and therfore men sayn, that 
the riche man hath selde good conseil, but if he 
have it of himself. And after that thou shalt con 
sider thy frendes and thin enemies. And as touch 
ing thy frendes, thou shalt consider which of hem 
ben most feithful and most wise, and eldest and 
most appreved in conseilling : and of hem shalt 
thou axe thy conseil, as the cas requireth. 

i say, that first ye shuln clepe to youre conseil 
youre frendes that ben trewe. For Salomon saith : 
that right as the herte of a man deliteth in savour 
that is swote, right so the conseil of trewe frendes 
yeveth swetenesse to the soule. He sayth also, 


ther may nothing be likened to the trewe frend : 
for certes gold ne silver ben not so muche worth as 
the good will of a trewe frend. And eke he sayth, 
that a trewe frend is a strong defence ; who so that 
it findeth, certes he findeth a gret tresor. Than 
shuln ye eke consider if that your trewe frendes ben 
discrete and wise : for the book saith, axe alway 
thy conseil of hem that ben wise. And by this 
same reson shuln ye clepen to youre conseil youre 
frendes that ben of age, swiche as han seyn and 
ben expert in many thinges, and ben appreved in 
conseillinges. For the book sayth, in olde men is 
al the sapience, and in longe time the prudence. 
And Tullius sayth, that grete thinges ne ben not ay 
accomplised by strengthe, ne by delivernesse of 
body, but by good conseil, by auctoritee of per- 
sones, and by science : the which three thinges ne 
ben not feble by age, but certes they enforcen and 
encresen day by day. And than shuln ye kepe 
this for a general reule. First ye shuln clepe to 
youre conseil a fewe of youre frendes that ben es 
pecial. For Salomon saith; many frendes have 
thou, but among a thousand chese thee on to be thy 
conseillour. For al be it so, that thou first ne telle 
thy conseil but to a fewe, thou mayest afterwarde 
tell it to mo folk, if it be nede. But loke alway 


that thy conseillours have thilke three conditions 
that I have sayd before ; that is to say, that they 
be trewe, wise, and of olde experience. And werke 
not alway in every nede by on conseillour allone : 
for somtime behoveth it to be conseilled by many. 
For Salomon sayth ; salvation of thinges is wher as 
ther ben many conseillours. 

Now sith that I have told you of which folk ye 
shulde be conseilled : now wol I teche you which 
conseil ye ought to eschue. First ye shuln eschue 
the conseilling of fooles ; for Salomon sayth, Take 
no conseil of a fool : for he ne can not conseille but 
after his owen lust and his affection. The book 
sayth, the propretee of a fool is this : He troweth 
lightly harme of every man, and lightly troweth all 
bountee in himself. Thou shalt eke eschue the 
conseilling of all flaterers, swiche as enforcen hem 
rather to preisen youre persone by flaterie, than for 
to tell you the sothfastnesse of thinges. 

Wherfore Tullius sayth, Among alle the pesti 
lences that ben in frendship, the gretest is flaterie. 
And therfore it is more nede that thou eschue and 
drede flaterers, than any other peple. The book 
saith, Thou shalt rather drede and flee fro the swete 
wordes of flatering preisers, than fro the egre 
wordes of thy frend that saith thee sothes. Salo- 


mon saith, that the wordes of a flaterer is a snare 
to cacchen innocentes. He sayth also, He that 
speketh to his frend wordes of swetenesse and of 
plesaunce, he setteth a net beforne his feet to cac 
chen him. And therfore sayth Tullius, Encline 
not thin eres to flaterers, ne take no conseil of 
wordes of flaterie. And Caton sayth, Avise thee 
wel, and eschue wordes of swetenesse and of ple 
saunce. And eke thou shalt eschue the conseilling 
of thin olde enemies that ben reconciled. The 
book sayth, that no wight retourneth safely into the 
grace of his olde enemie. And Ysope sayth, Ne 
trost not to hem, to which thou hast somtime had 
werre or enmitee, ne telle hem not thy conseil. 
And Senek telleth the cause why. It may not be, 
sayth he, ther as gret fire hath long time endured, 
that ther ne dwelleth som vapour of warmnesse. 
And therfore saith Salomon, In thin olde foo trost 
thou never. For sikerly though thin enemie be 
reconciled, and maketh thee chere of humilitee, 
and louteth to thee with his hed, ne trost him 
never : for certes he maketh thilke feined humilitee 
more for his profite, than for any love of thy per- 
sone; because that he demeth to have victorie 
over thy persone by swiche feined contenance, the 
which victorie he might not have by strif of werre. 


And Peter Alphonse sayth; Make no felawship 
with thin olde enemies, for if thou do hem bountee, 
they wollen perverten it to wickednesse. And eke 
thou must eschue the conseilling of hem that ben 
thy servaunts, and beren thee gret reverence : for 
paraventure they fein it more for drede than for 
love. And therfore saith a philosophre in this 
wise: Ther is no wight parfitly trewe* to him that 
he to sore dredeth. And Tullius sayth, Ther n'is 
no might so gret of any emperour that longe may 
endure, but if he have more love of the peple than 
drede. Thou shalt also eschue the conseilling of 
folk that ben dronkelewe, for they ne can no con- 
seil hide. For Salomon sayth, Ther n'is no pri- 
vetee ther as regneth dronkennesse. Ye shuln 
also have in suspect the conseilling of swiche folk 
as conseille you o thing prively, and conseille you 
the contrarie openly. For Cassiodore sayth, That 
it is a manere sleighte to hinder his enemy whan 
he sheweth to don a thing openly, and werketh 
prively the contrary. Thou shalt also have in sus 
pect the conseilling of wicked folk, for hir conseil 
is alway ful of fraude. And David sayth ; Blisful 
is that man that hath not folwed the conseilling of 
shrewes. Thou shalt also eschue the conseilling 
of yonge folk, for hir conseilling is not ripe, as 
Salomon saith. 


Now, Sire, sith I have shewed you of which folk 
ye shullen take youre conseil, and of which folk ye 
shullen eschue the conseil, now wol I teche you 
how ye shuln examine your conseil after the doc 
trine of Tullius. In examining than of your con 
seillours, ye shuln considre many thinges. Alder- 
first thou shalt considre that in thilke thing that 
thou purposest, and upon what thing that thou 
wolt have conseil, that veray trouthe be said and 
conserved ; this is to say, telle trewely thy tale : 
for he that sayth false, may not wel be conseilled 
in that cas, of which he lieth. And after this, thou 
shalt considre the thinges that accorden to that 
thou purposest for to do by thy conseillours, if re- 
son accord therto, and eke if thy might may at- 
teine therto, and if the more part and the better 
part of thin conseillours accorden therto or no. 
Than shalt thou considre what thing shal folwe of 
that conseilling; as hate, pees, werre, grace, pro- 
fite, or domage, and many other thinges : and in 
alle thinges thou shalt chese the beste, and weive 
alle other thinges. Than shalt thou considre of 
what roote is engendred the matere of thy conseil, 
and what fruit it may conceive and engendre. Thou 
shalt eke considre alle the causes, from whennes 
they ben sprongen. And whan thou hast examined 


thy conseil, as I have said, and which partie is the 
better and more profitable, and hast appreved it by 
many wise folk and olde, than shalt thou considre, 
if thou mayst performe it and maken of it a good 
ende. For certes reson wol not that any man 
shulde beginne a thing, but if he mighte performe 
it ay him oughte : ne no wight shulde take upon 
him so hevy a charge, that he might not beren 
it. For the proverbe sayth ; he that to muche 
embraceth distreinethj litel. And Caton saith ; 
assay to do swiche thinges as thou hast power 
to don, lest the charge oppresse thee so sore, 
that thee behoveth to weive thing that thou hast 
begonne. And if so be that thou be in doute, 
whether thou mayst performe a thing or non, chese 
rather to suffre than to beginne. And Peter Al- 
phonse sayth ; If thou hast might to don a thing, 
of which thou must repente, it is better nay than 
ya : this is to sayn, that thee is better to holde thy 
tonge stille than for to speke. Than mayst thou 
understonde by stronger resons, that if thou hast 
power to performe a werk, of which thou shalt 
repente, than is thee better that thou suffre than 
beginne. Wei sain they that defenden every 
wight to assaye a thing of which he is in doute, 
whether he may performe it or. non. And after 


whan ye ban examined youre conseil, as I have 
said beforne, and knowen wel that ye moun per- 
forme your emprise, conferme it than sadly til it be 
at an ende. 

Now is it reson and time that I shewe you whan, 
and wherfore, that ye moun chaunge your conseil, 
withouten repreve. Sothly, a man may change his 
purpos and his conseil, if the cause ceseth, or whan 
a newe cas betideth. For the lawe saith, that upon 
thinges that newly betiden, behoveth newe conseil. 
And Seneca sayth ; if thy conseil is comen to the 
eres of thin enemies, chaunge thy conseil. Thou 
mayst also chaunge thy conseil, if so be that thou 
find that by errour, or by other cause, harme or 
damage may betide. Also if thy conseil be dis- 
honeste, other elles come of dishoneste cause, 
chaunge thy conseil : for the lawes sain, that all 
behestes that ben dishoneste ben of no value : and 
eke, if so be that it be impossible, or may not 
goodly be performed or kept. 

And take this for a general reule, that every con 
seil that is affermed so strongly, that it may not 
be chaunged for no condition that may betide, I 
say that thilke conseil is wicked. 

This Melibeus, whan he had herd the doctrine of 
his wif dame Prudence, answered in this wise. 


Dame, quod he, as yet unto this time ye han wel 
and covenably taught me, as in general, how I shal 
governe me in the chesing and in the withholding 
of my conseillours : but now wold I fain that ye 
wold condescend in especial, and telle me how 
liketh you, or what semeth you by oure conseillours 
that we han chosen in oure present nede. 

My lord, (quod she, I beseche you in alle hum- 
blesse, that ye wol not wilfully replie again my re- 
sons, ne distempre your herte, though I speke thing 
that you displese ; for God wote that, as in min en 
tente, I speke it for your beste, for youre honour 
and for youre profite eke, and sothly I hope that 
youre benignitee wol taken it in patience. And 
trosteth me wel, quod she, that youre conseil as in 
this cas ne shulde not (as to speke proprely) be 
called a conseilling, but a motion or a meving of 
folie, in which conseil ye han erred in many a son- 
dry wise. 

First and forward, ye han erred in the assem 
bling of youre conseillours : for ye sholde first han 
cleped a fewe folk to youre conseil, and after ye 
mighte han shewed it to mo folk, if it hadde be 
nede. But certes ye han sodeinly cleped to your 
conseil a gret multitude of peple, ful chargeant and 
ful anoyous for to here. Also ye han erred, for ther 


as ye shulde ban only cleped to youre conseile 
youre trewe frendes, olde and wise, ye ban cleped 
straunge folk, yonge folk, false flaterers, and ene 
mies reconciled, and folk tbat don you reverence 
withouten love. And eke ye ban erred, for ye ban 
brougbt with you to youre conseil ire, coveitise, and 
hastifnesse, tbe whicb tbree tbinges ben contrary to 
every conseil honest and profitable : the which three 
thinges ye ne ban not anieritissed or destroyed, 
neither in youreself ne in youre conseillours, as you 
ought. Ye ban erred also, for ye ban shewed to 
youre conseillours youre talent and youre affections 
to make werre anon, and for to do vengeaunce, and 
they ban espied by youre wordes to what thing ye 
ben enclined : and tberfore ban they conseilled you 
rather to youre talent, than to youre profite. Ye 
ban erred also, for it semeth that you sufficeth to 
ban ben conseilled by thise conseillours only, and 
with litel avis, wberas in so high and so gret a nede, 
it had ben necessarie mo conseillours, and more de- 
. liberation to performe your emprise. Ye ban erred 
also, for ye ban not examined your conseil in the 
foresaid manere, ne in due manere as the cas re- 
quireth. Ye ban erred also, for ye ban maked no 
division betwix youre conseillours ; this is to sayn, 
betwix youre trewe frendes and youre feined con- 


seillours : ne ye han not knowe the wille of your 
trewe frendes, olde and wise, but ye han caste alle 
hir wordes in an hochepot, and enclined your herte 
to the more part and to the greter nombre, and ther 
, be ye condescended ; and sith ye wot wel that men 
shuln alway finde a greter nombre of fooles than of 
wise men, and therfore the conseillings that ben at 
congregations and multitudes of folk, ther as men 
take more regard to the nombre, than to the sapi 
ence of persones, ye seen wel, that in swiche con- 
seillings fooles han the maistrie. Melibeus an 
swered and said agein : I graunte wel that I have 
erred; but ther as thou hast told me herebeforne, 
that he n'is not to blame that chaungeth his conseil 
in certain cas, and for certain and just causes, I am 
al redy to chaunge my conseil right as thou wolt 
devise. The proverbe sayth; for to don sinne is 
mannish, but certes for to persevere long in sinne is 
werke of the Divel. 

To this sentence answered anon dame Prudence, 
and saide ; examineth (quod she) wel your conseil f 
and let us see the which of hem han spoken most re- 
sonably, and taught you best conseil. And for as 
muche as the examination is necessarie, let us be- 
ginne at the Surgiens and at the Physiciens, that 
first spaken in this mater. I say that Physiciens 


and Surgiens ban sayde you in youre conseil dis- 
cretly, as hem oughte : and in hir speche saiden ful 
wisely, that to the office of hem apperteineth to don 
to every wight honour and profite, and no wight to 
anoye, and after hir craft to don gret diligence unto 
the cure of hem which that they han in hir gover- 
naunce. And, Sire, right as they han answered 
wisely and discretly, right so rede I that they be 
highly and soverainly guerdoned for hir noble 
speche, and eke for they shulden do the more en- 
tentif besinesse in the curation of thy dere dough ter. 
For al be it so that they ben youre frendes, therfore 
shullen ye not suffren, that they serve you for 
nought, but ye oughte the rather guerdone hem, and 
shewe hem youre largesse. And as touching the 
proposition, which the Physiciens entreteden in 
this cas, this is to sain, that in maladies, that a 
contrarie is warished by another contrarie ; I wold 
fain knowe how ye understonde thilke text, and 
what is youre sentence. Certes quod Melibeus, I 
uuderstond it in this wise ; that right as they han 
don me a contrarie, right so shulde I don hem ano 
ther ; for right as they han venged hem upon me 
and don me wrong, right so shal I venge me upon 
hem, and don hem wrong, and than have I cured a 
contrarie by another. 


Lo, lo, quod dame Prudence, how lightly is 
every man enclined to his owen desire and his owen 
plesaunce ! certes (quod she) the wordes of the 
Physiciens ne shulden not han ben understonden 
in that wise ; for certes wickednesse is not con- 
trarie to wickednesse, ne vengeaunce to vengeaunce, 
ne wrong to wrong, but they ben semblable : and 
therfore a vengeaunce is not warished by another 
vengeaunce, ne a wrong by another wrong, but 
everich of hem encreseth and aggreggeth other. 
But certes the wordes of the Physiciens shulden 
ben understonde in this wise ; for good and wicked 
nesse ben two contraries, and pees and werre, ven 
geaunce and suffraunce, discord and accord, and 
many other thinges : but certes, wickednesse shal 
be warished by goodnesse, discord by accord, werre 
by pees, and so forth of other thinges. And hereto 
accordeth Seint Poule the Apostle in many places : 
he sayth, ne yelde not harme for harme, ne wicked 
speche for wicked speche, but do wel to him that 
doth to thee harme, and blesse him that saith to 
thee harme. And in many other places he amo- 
nesteth pees and accord. But now wol I speke to 
you of the conseil, which that was yeven to you by 
the men of lawe, and the wise folk, and old folke, 
that sayden alle by on accord as ye han herd be- 


forne, that over alle thinges ye shuln do youre di 
ligence to kepe youre persone, and to warnestore 
your house : and saiden also, that in this cas you 
oughte for to werchen ful avisely and with gret de 
liberation. And, Sire, as to the first point, that 
toucheth the keping of youre persone, ye shuln un- 
derstond, that he that hath werre, shal ever more 
devoutly and mekely preien beforne alle thinges, 
that Jesu Crist of his mercie wol han him in his 
protection, and ben his soveraine helping at his 
nede : for certes in this world ther is no wight that 
may be conseilled ne kept suffisantly, withoute the 
keping of oure lord Jesu Crist. To- this sentence 
accordeth the Prophete David that sayth : if God 
ne kepe the citee, in idel waketh he that kepeth it. 
Now, Sire, than shuln ye committe the keping of 
youre persone to youre trewe frendes, that ben ap- 
preved and yknowe, and of hem shuln ye axen 
helpe, youre persone for to kepe. For Caton saith . 
if thou have nede of helpe, axe it of thy frendes, 
for ther n'is non so good a Physicien as thy trewe 
frend. And after this than shuln ye kepe you fro 
alle straunge folk, and fro lieres, and have alway 
in suspect hir compaignie. For Piers Alphonse 
sayth: ne take no compaignie by the way of a 
straunge man, but if so be that thou have knowen 


him of lenger time : and if so be that he falle into 
thy compaignie paraventure withouten thin assent, 
enquere than, as subtilly as thou maist, of his con 
versation, and of his lif beforne, and feine thy way, 
saying thou wolt go thider as thou wolt not go : and 
if he bere a spere, hold thee on the right side, and 
and if he bere a swerd, hold thee on his left side. 
And after this than shuln ye kepe you wisely from 
all swiche manere peple as I have sayed before, 
and hem and hir conseil eschue. And after this 
than shuln ye kepe you in swiche manere, that for 
any presumption of youre strengthe, that ye ne de 
spise not, ne account not the might of your adver 
sary so lite, that ye let the keping of youre persone 
for your presumption ; for every wise man dredeth 
his enemie. And Salomon sayth ; welful is he 
that of alle hath drede ; For certes he that thurgh 
the hardinesse of his herte, and thurgh the hardi- 
nesse of himself, hath to gret presumption, him 
shal evil betide. Than shuln ye evermo countre- 
waite emboyssements, and alle espiaile. For Senek 
sayth, that the wise man that dredeth harmes, es- 
chueth harmes ; ne he ne falleth into perils, that 
perils eschueth. And al be it so, that it seme that 
thou art in siker place, yet shalt thou alway do thy 
diligence in keping of thy persone ; this is to sayn, 


ne be not negligent to kepe thin persone, not only 
fro thy gretest enemy, but also fro thy leste ene 
my. Senek sayth; a man that is wel avised, he 
dredeth his leste enemie. Ovide sayth, that the 
litel wesel wol slee the gret boll and the wilde hart. 
And the book sayth; a litel thorne may prikke a 
king ful sore, and a litel hound wol hold the wilde 
bore. But natheles, I say not thou shalt be so 
coward, that thou doute wher as is no drede. The 
book saith, that som men [han taught hir deceivour, 
for they han to muche dreded] to be deceived. 
Yet shalt thou drede to be empoysoned ; and [ther- 
fore shalt thou] kepe thee fro the compagnie of 
scorners : for the book sayth, with scorners ne make 
no compagnie, but flee hir wordes as venime. 

Now as to the second point, wheras youre wise 
conseillours conseilled you to warnestore your 
hous with gret diligence, I wolde fain knowe how 
that ye understode thilke wordes, and what is 
youre sentence. 

Melibeus answered and saide ; Certes I under- 
stond it in this wise, that I shal warnestore min 
hous with toures, swiche as han castelles and 
other manere edifices, and armure, and artelries, 
by which thinges 1 may my persone and myn 



hous so kepen and defenden, that rain enemies 
shuln ben in drede min hous for to approche. 

To this sentence answered anon Prudence. 
Warnestoring (quod she) of heighe toures and of 
grete edifices, is with grete costages and with grete 
travaille ; and whan that they ben accompliced, 
yet ben they not worth a stre, but if they ben de 
fended by trewe frendes, that ben olde and wise. 
And understonde wel, that the greteste and strong- 
este garneson that a riche man may have, as wel 
to kepen his persone as his goodes, is, that he be 
beloved with his subgets, and with his neighe- 
boures. For thus sayth Tullius, that ther is a 
maner garneson, that no man may venquish ne 
discomfite, and that is a lord to be beloved of his 
citizeins, and of his peple. 

Now, Sire, as to the thridde point, wheras youre 
olde and wise conseillours sayden, that you ne 
oughte not sodeinly ne hastily proceden in thia 
nede, but that you oughte purveyen and appareilen 
you in this cas, with gret diligence and gret delibe 
ration; trewely, I trowe, that they sayden right 
wisely and right soth. For Tullius sayth: in 
every nede er thou beginne it, appareile thee with 
gret diligence. Than say I, that in vengeaunce 


taking, in werre, in bataille, and in warnestoring, 
er thou beginne, I rede that thou appareile thee 
therto, and do it with gret deliberation. For Tul- 
lius sayth, that longe appareiling tofore the bataille, 
maketh short victorie. And Cassiodorus sayth : 
the game son is stronger, whan it is longe time 

But now let us speken of the conseil that was 
accorded by your neigheboures, swiche as don you 
reverence withouten love; youre olde enemies re 
conciled ; your flatereres, that conseilled you cer 
tain thinges prively, and openly conseilled you the 
contrarie ; the yonge folk also, that conseilled you 
to venge you, and to make werre anon. Certes, 
Sire, as I have sayde beforne, ye han s gretly erred 
to han cleped swiche maner folk to youre conseil, 
which conseillours ben ynough reproved by the 
resons aforesaid. But natheles, let us now de- 
scende to the special. Ye shul first proceden after 
the doctrine of Tullius. Certes the trouthe of 
this matere or of this conseil nedeth not diligently 
to enquere, for it is wel wist, which they ben that 
han don to you this trespas and vilanie, and how 
many trespasours, and in what manere they han 
don to you all this wrong, and all this vilanie. 
And after this, than shuln ye examine the second 


condition, which that the same Tullius addeth in 
this matere. For Tullius putteth a thing, which 
that he clepeth consenting : this to sayn, who ben 
they, and which ben they, and how many, that 
consenten to thy conseil in thy wilfulnesse, to don 
hastif vengeaunce. And let us considre also who 
ben they, and how many ben they, and which ben 
they, that consenteden to youre adversaries. As 
to the first point, it it is wel knowen which folk they 
be that consenteden to youre wilfulnesse. For 
trewely, all tho that conseileden you to maken 
sodein werre, ne ben not youre frendes. Let us 
now considre which ben they that ye holden so 
gretly youre frendes, as to youre persone : for al 
be it so that ye be mighty and riche, certes ye ne 
ben but allone : for certes ye ne han no child but 
a doughter, ne ye ne han no brethren^ ne cosins 
germains, ne non other nigh kinrede, wherfore that 
youre enemies for drede shulde stinte to plede with 
you, or to destroye youre persone. Ye knowen 
also, that your richesses moten ben dispended in 
diverse parties ; and whan that every wight hath 
his part, they ne wollen taken but litel regard to 
venge youre deth. But thin enemies ben three, 
and they han many brethren, children, cosins, and 
other nigh kinrede : and though so were, that thou 


haddest slain of hem two or three, yet dwellen 
ther ynow to wreken hir deth, and to slee thy per- 
sone. And though so be that youre kinrede be 
more stedefast and siker than the kin of your ad 
versaries, yet natheles youre kinrede is but a fer 
kinrede ; they ben but litel sibbe to you, and the 
kin of youre enemies ben nigh sibbe to hem. And 
certes as in that, hir condition is better than youres. 
Than let us considre also of the conseilling of hem 
that conseilled you to take sodein vengeance, whe 
ther it accorde to reson : and certes, ye knowe wel, 
nay ; for as by right and reson, ther may no man 
taken vengeaunce on no wight, but the juge that 
hath the jurisdiction of it, whan it is ygraunted 
him to take thilke vengeaunce hastily, or attem- 
prely, as the lawe requireth. And yet moreover of 
thilke word that Tullius clepeth consenting, thou 
shalt considre, if thy might and thy power may 
consente and suffice to thy wilfulnesse, and to thy 
conseillours : and certes, thou mayest wel say, 
that nay ; for sikerly, as for to speke proprely, we 
moun do nothing but only swiche thing as we moun 
don rightfully : and certes rightfully ye ne mowe 
take no vengeance, as of youre propre auctoritee. 
Than mowe ye sen that your power ne consenteth 
not, ne accordeth not to youre wilfulnesse. Now 


let us examine the thridde point, that Tullius 
clepeth consequent. Thou shalt understonde, that 
the vengeaunce that thou purposest for to take, is 
the consequent, and therof folweth another venge 
ance, peril, and werre, and other damages with- 
outen nombre, of which we ben not ware, as at this 
time. And as touching the fourthe point, that 
Tullius clepeth engendring, thou shalt consider, 
that this wrong which that is don to thee, is en- 
gendred of the hate of thin enemies, and of the 
vengeaunce taking upon that wold engender ano 
ther vengeaunce, and muchel sorwe wasting of 
richesses, as I sayde ere. 

Now, sire, as to the point, that Tullius clepeth 
causes, which that is the last point, thou shalt un 
derstonde, that the wrong that thou hast received, 
hath certaine causes, which that clerkes clepen 
oriens, and efficiens, and causa longinqua, and causa 
propinqua, this is to sayn, the fer cause, and the 
nigh cause. The fer cause is almighty God, that 
is cause of alle thinges ; the ner cause, is thin three 
enemies ; the cause accidental was hate ; the cause 
material, ben the five woundes of thy doughter; the 
cause formal, is the maner of hir werking, that 
broughten ladders, and clomben in at thy windowes; 
the cause final was for to slee thy doughter; it 


letted not in as muche as in hem was. But for to 
speke of the fer cause, as to what ende they shuln 
come, or what shal finally betide of hem in this cas, 
ne can I not deme, but by conjecting and suppos 
ing : for we shuln suppose, that they shuln come to 
a wicked ende, because that the book of Decrees 
sayth : Selden or with gret peine ben causes 
ybrought to a good ende, whan they ben badly be- 

Now, Sire, if men wold axen me, why that God 
sufficed men to do you this vilanie, certes I can not 
wel answer, as for no sothfastnesse. For the Apos 
tle sayth, that the sciences, and the jugements of 
oure Lord God Almighty ben ful depe : ther may no 
man comprehend ne serche hem suffisantly. Nathe- 
les, by certain presumptions and conjectings, I hold 
and beleve, that God, which that is ful of justice 
and of rightwisenesse, hath suffered this betide, by 
just cause resonable. 

Thy name is Melibee, this is to sayn, a man that 
drinketh hony. Thou hast dronke so muche hony 
of swete temporel richesses, and delices, and ho 
nours of this world, that thou art dronken, and hast 
forgetten Jesu Crist thy creatour : thou ne hast not 
don to him swiche honour and reverence as thee 
ought, ne thou ne hast wel ytaken kepe to the 


wordes of Ovide, that sayth : Under the honey of 
the goodes of thy body is hid the venime that sleth 
the soule. And Salomon sayth : If thou hast foun- 
den hony, ete of it that sufficeth ; for if thou ete of 
it out of mesure, thou shalt spewe, and be nedy 
and poure. And peraventure Crist hath thee in 
despit, and hath tourned away fro thee his face, 
and his eres of misericorde ; and also he hath suf- 
fred, that thou hast ben punished in the manere 
that thou hast ytrespased. Thou hast don sinne 
again oure Lord Crist, for certes the three enemies 
of mankind, that is to sayn, the flesh, the fend, and 
the world, thou hast sufFred hem entre into thin 
herte wilfully, by the windowes of thy body, and 
hast not defended thyself suffisantly agein hir as- 
sautes, and hir temptations, so that they han wound 
ed thy soule in five places, this is to sayn the dedly 
sinnes that ben entred into thyn herte by thy five 
wittes : and in the same manere our Lord Crist hath 
wold and suffred, that thy three enemies ben entred 
into thyn hous by the windowes. and han ywounded 
thy doughter in the foresayd manere. 

Certes, quod Melibee, I see wel that ye enforce 
you muchel by wordes to overcomen me, in swiche 
manere, that I shal not venge me on mine enemies, 
shewing me the perils and the evils that mighten 


falle of this vengeaunce : but who so wolde con- 
sidre in alle vengeaunces the perils and evils that 
mighten sue of vengeaunce taking, a man wold 
never take vengeaunce, and that were harme : for 
by the vengeaunce taking ben the wicked men dis 
severed fro the goode men. And they that han will 
to do wickednesse, restreinen hir wicked purpos, 
whan they sen the punishing and the chastising of 
the trespasours. [To this answered dame Pru 
dence: Certes, quod she, I graunte you that of ven 
geaunce taking cometh muche evil and muche good ; 
but vengeaunce taking apperteineth not to everich 
on, but only to juges, and to hem that han the ju 
risdiction over the trespasours ;] and yet say I more, 
that right as a singuler persone sinneth in taking 
vengeaunce of another man, right so sinneth the 
juge, if he do no vengeaunce of hem that it han de 
served. F.or Senek sayth thus : That maister (he 
sayth) is good, that preveth shrewes. And Cassio- 
dore saith : A man dredeth to do outrages, whan 
he wot and knoweth, that it displeseth to the juges 
and soveraines. And another sayth: The juge that 
dredeth to do right, maketh men shrewes. And Seint 
Poule the Apostle sayth in his Epistle, whan he 
writeth unto the Romaines, that the juges beren not 
the spere withouten cause, but they beren it to 


pumshe the shrewes and misdoers, and for to de- 
fende the goode men. If ye wiln than take ven- 
geaunce of youre enemies, ye shuln retourne or have 
your recours to the juge, that hath the jurisdiction 
upon hem, and he shal punishe hem, as the lawe 
axeth and requireth. 

A, sayd Melibee, this vengeaunce liketh me noth 
ing. I bethink me now, and take hede how that 
fortune hath norished me fro my childhode, and 
hath holpen me to passe many a stronge pas : now 
wol I assayen hire, trowing, with Goddes helpe, 
that she shal helpe me my shame for to venge. 

Certes, quod Prudence, if ye wol werke by my 
conseil, ye shuln not assaye fortune by no way : ne 
ye ne shuln not lene or bowe unto hire, after the 
wordes of Senek ; for thinges that ben folily don, 
and tho that ben don in hope of fortune, shuln 
never come to good ende. And as the same Senek 
sayth : The more clere and the more shining that 
fortune is, the more brotel and the soner broke she 
is. Trusteth not in hire, for she n'is not stedefast 
ne stable : for whan thou trowest to be most siker 
and seure of hire helpe, she wol faille and deceive 
thee. And wheras ye sayn, that fortune hath no 
rished you fro youre childhode, I say that in so 
muchel ye shuln the lesse truste in hire, and in hire 


wit. For Senek saith : What man that is norished 
by fortune, she maketh him a gret fool. Now than 
sin ye desire and axe vengeaunce, and the ven- 
geaunce that is don after the lawe and before 
the juge, ne liketh you not, and the vengeaunce, 
that is don in hope of fortune, is perilous and un 
certain, than have ye non other remedie, but for to 
have your recours unto the soveraine juge, that 
vengeth alle vilanies, and wronges ; and he shal 
venge you, after that himself witnesseth, wheras 
he saith ; Leveth the vengeaunce to me, and I shal 
do it. 

Melibeus answered : If I ne venge me of the vila- 
nie that men han don to me, I sompne or warne 
hem, that han don to me vilanie, and alle other, to 
do me another vilanie. For it is written ; If thou 
take no vengeaunce of an olde vilany, thou somp- 
nest thin adversaries to do thee a newe vilanie : and 
also for my suffraunce, men wolden do me so muche 
vilanie, that I might neither bere it ne susteine ; 
and so shulde I ben put and holden over lowe. For 
som men sain, In muchel suffring shul many thinges 
falle unto thee, which thou shalt not mowe suffre. 

Certes, quod Prudence, I graunte you wel, that 
overmuchel suffraunce is not good, but yet ne 
folweth it not therof, that every persone to whom 


men don vilanie, shuld take of it vengeaunce : for 
that apperteineth and longeth all only to the juges, 
for they shul venge the vilanies and injuries : and 
therfore tho two auctoritees, that ye han sayd above, 
ben only understonden in the juges : for whan they 
suffren overmuchel the wronges and vilanies to be 
don, withouten punishing, they sompne not a man 
all only for to do newe wronges, but they commaun- 
den it : al so as a wise man sayth, that the juge that 
correcteth not the sinner, commaundeth and biddeth 
him do sinne. And the juges and soveraines mighten 
in hir lond so muche suffre of the and mis- 
doers, that they shulden by swiche suffraunce, by 
proces of time, wexen of swiche power and might, 
that they shuld putte out the juges and the sove 
raines from hir places, and atte laste maken hem 
lese hir lordshippes. 

But now let us putte, that ye have leve to venge 
you : I say ye be not of might and power, as now 
to venge you : for if ye wol maken comparison unto 
the might of youre adversaries, ye shuln finde in 
many thinges, that I have shewed you er this, that 
hir condition is better than youres, and therfore say 
I, that it is good as now, that ye suffre and be pa 

Forthermore ye knowen wel, that after the com- 


mune saw, it is a woodnesse, a man to strive with 
a stronger, or a more mighty man than he is him 
self; and for to strive with a man of even strengthe, 
that is to say, with as strong a man as he is, it is 
peril ; and for to strive with a weker man, it is folie ; 
and therfore shulde a man flee striving, as muchel 
as he mighte. For Salomon sayth: It is a gret 
worship to a man to kepe him fro noise and strif. 
And if it so happe, that a man of greter mighte and 
strengthe than thou art, do thee grevaunce : studie 
and besie thee rather to stille the same grevaunce, 
than for to venge thee. For Senek sayth, that he 
putteth him in a grete peril, that striveth with a 
greter man than he is himself. And Caton sayth ; 
If a man of higher estat or degree, or more mighty 
than thou, do thee anoye or grevance, suffre him : 
for he that ones hath greved thee, may another time 
releve thee andhelpe thee. Yet sette I cas, ye have 
bothe might and licence for to venge you, I say 
that ther ben ful many thinges that shuln restreine 
you of vengeance taking, and make you for to en- 
cline to suffre, and for to han patience in the 
wronges that han ben don to you. First and for 
ward, if ye wol considre the defautes that ben in 
youre owen persone, for which defautes God hath 
suffred you have this tribulation, as I have sayd 


to you herebeforne. For the Poete sayth, that we 
oughten patiently taken the tribulations that comen 
to us, whan that we thinken and consideren, that 
we han deserved to have hem. And Seint Gre- 
gorie sayth, that whan a man considereth wel the 
nombre of his defautes and of his sinnes, the peines 
and the tribulations that he suffereth, semen the 
lesse unto him. And in as muche as him thinketh 
his sinnes more hevy and grevous, in so muche 
semeth his peine the lighter and the esier unto him. 
Also ye owen to encline and bowe youre herte, to 
take the patience of oure Lord Jesu Crist, as sayth 
Seint Peter in his Epistles. Jesu Crist (he saith) 
hath suffred for us, and yeven ensample to every 
man to folwe and sue him, for he dide never sinne, 
ne never came ther a vilains word out of his mouth. 
Whan men cursed him, he cursed hem nought ; 
and whan men beten him, he manaced hem nought. 
Also the gret patience, which Seintes that ben in 
Paradis han had in tribulations that they han suf 
fred, withouten hir desert or gilt, oughte muchel 
stirre you to patience. Forthermore, ye shulde en 
force you to have patience, considering that the tri 
bulations of this world but litel while endure, and 
sone passed ben and gon, and the joye that a 
man seketh to han by patience in tribulations is 


perdurable ; after that the Apostle sayth in his 
Epistle : the joye of God, he sayth, is perdurable, 
that is to sayn, everlasting. Also troweth and be- 
leveth stedfastly, that he n'is not wel ynorished ne 
wel ytaught, that cannot have patience, or wol not 
receive patience. For Salomon sayth, that the doc 
trine and wit of a man is knowen by patience. And 
in another place he sayeth, that he that is patient, 
governeth him by gret prudence. And the same 
Salomon saith : The angrie and wrathful man maketh 
noises, and the patient man attempreth and stilleth 
hem. He saith also, It is more worth to be pa 
tient than for to be right strong. And he that may 
have the lordshipe of his owen herte, is more to 
preise, than he that by his force or strengthe taketh 
gret citees. And therfore sayth Seint James in his 
Epistle, that patience is a gret vertue of perfection. 
Certes, quod Melibee, I graunte you, Dame Pru 
dence, that patience is a gret vertue of perfection, 
but every man may not have the perfection that ye 
seken, ne I am not of the nombre of the right parfit 
men : for min herte may never be in pees, unto the 
time it be venged. And al be it so, that it was 
gret peril to min enemies to do me a vilanie in tak 
ing vengeaunce upon me, yet token they non hede 
of the peril, but fulfilleden hir wicked will and hir 


corage : and therfore me thinketh men oug'hten not 
repreve me, though I put me in a litel peril for to 
venge me, and though I do a gret excesse, that is to 
sayn, that I venge on outrage by another. 

A, quod dame Prudence, ye sayn your will and 
as you liketh ; but in no cas of the world a man 
shulde not don outrage ne excesse, for to vengen 
him. For Cassiodore sayth, that as evil doth he 
that vengeth him by outrage, as he that doth the 
outrage. And therfore ye shuln venge you after 
the ordre of right, that is to sayn, by the lawe, and 
not by excesse, ne by outrage. And also if ye wol 
venge you of the outrage of youre adversaries, in 
other manere than right commaundeth, ye sinnen. 
And therfore sayth Senek, that a man shall never 
venge shrewednesse by shrewednesse. And if ye 
say that right axeth a man to defende violence by 
violence, and fighting by fighting: certes ye say 
soth, whan the defence is don withouten intervalle, 
or withouten tarying or delay, for to defende him, 
and not for to venge. And it behoveth, that a man 
putte swiche attemperaunce in his defence, that 
men have no cause ne mater to repreve him, that 
defendeth him, of outrage and excesse, for elles 
were it againe reson. Parde ye knowen wel, that 
ye maken no defence as now, for to defende you, 


but for to venge you : and so sheweth it, that ye 
ban no will to do youre dede attemprely : and ther- 
fore me thinketh that patience is good. For Salo 
mon sayth, that he that is not patient, shal have 
gret harme. 

Certes, quod Melibee, I graunte you, that whan 
a man is impatient and wrothe of that that touch- 
eth him not, and that apperteineth not unto him, 
though it harme him it is no wonder. For the lawe 
saith, that he is coupable that entremeteth or med- 
leth with swiche thing, as apperteineth not unto him. 
And Salomon saith, that he that entremeteth of the 
noise or strif of another man, is like to him that 
taketh a straunge hound by the eres : for right as he 
that taketh a straunge hound by the eres is other- 
while bitten with the hound, right in the same wise, 
it is reson that he have harme, that by his impa 
tience medleth him of the noise of another man, 
wheras it apperteineth not unto him. But ye 
knowe wel, that this dede, that is to sayn, my greef 
and my disese, toucheth me right nigh. And ther- 
fore though I be wroth and impatient, it is no mer- 
vaille : and (saving your grace) I cannot see that it 
might gretly harme me, though I took vengeaunce, 
for I am richer and more mighty than min enemies 
ben ; and wel knowe ye, that by money and by hav- 



ing grete possessions, ben alle tliinges of this world 
governed. And Salomon sayth, that alle thinges 
obeye to money. 

Whan Prudence had herd hire husbond avaunte 
him of his richesse and of his money, dispreising 
the power of his adversaries, she spake and sayd in 
this wise: Certes, dere Sire, I graunte you that ye 
ben riche and mighty, and that richesses ben good 
to hem that han wel ygeten hem, and that wel conne 
usen hem. For right as the body of a man may not 
liven withouten soul, no more may it liven with- 
outen temporel goodes, and by richesses may a man 
gete him grete frendes. And therfore sayth Pam- 
philus : If a netherdes doughter (he sayth) be riche, 
she may chese of a thousand men, which she wol 
take to hire husbond : for of a thousand men on wol 
not forsaken hire ne refusen hire. And this Pam- 
philus saith also : If thou be right happy, that is to 
sayn, if thou be right riche, thou shalt fmde a gret 
nombre of felawes and frendes ; and if thy fortune 
chaunge, that thou wexe poure, farewel frendshipe 
and felawshipe, for thou shalt be al allone with 
outen any compaignie, but if it be the compaignie 
of poure folk. And yet sayth this Pamphilus more 
over, that they that ben bond and thralle of linage, 
shuln be made worthy and noble by richesses. And 


right so as by richesses ther comen many goodes, 
right so by poverte come ther many harmes and 
eviles : for gret poverte constreineth a man to do 
many eviles. And therfore clepeth Cassiodore po 
verte the moder of ruine, that is to sayn, the moder 
of overthrowing or falling doun. And therfore 
sayth Piers Alfonse : on of the gretest adversitees of 
this world, is whan a free man by kinde, or of birthe, 
is constreined by poverte to eten the almesse of his 
enemie. And the same sayth Innocent in on of his 
bookes : he sayth, that sorweful and mishappy is 
the condition of a poure begger, for if he axe not 
his mete, he dieth for hunger, and if he axe, he dieth 
for shame : and algates necessitee constreineth him 
to axe. And therfore sayth Salomon, that better it 
is to die, than for to have swiche poverte. And as 
the same Salomon sayth : Better it is to die of bitter 
deth, than for to liven in swiche wise. By thise 
resons that I have said unto you, and by many other 
resons that I coude saye, I graunte you that rich- 
esses ben good to hem that wel geten hem, and to 
hem that wel usen tho richesses : and therfore wol I 
shewe you how ye shuln behave you in gadering of 
youre richesses, and in what manere ye shuln usen 

First, ye shuln geten hem withouten gret desir, 


by good leiser, sokingly, and not over hastifly, for a 
man that is to desiring to gete richesses, aban- 
doneth him first to thefte and to alle other eviles. 
And therfore sayth Salomon : He that hasteth him 
to besily to wexe riche, he shal be non innocent. 
He sayth also, that the richesse that hastily cometh 
to a man, sone and lightly goeth and passeth from 
a man, but that richesse that cometh litel and litel, 
wexeth alway and multiplieth. And, Sire, ye 
shulen gete richesses by youre wit and by youre 
travaille, unto youre profite, and that withouten 
wrong or harme doing to any other persone. For 
the lawe sayth : Ther maketh no man himself riche, 
if he do harme to another wight ; this is to say, that 
nature defendeth and forbedeth by right, that no 
man make himself riche, unto the harme of another 
persone. And Tullius sayth, that no sorwe, ne no 
drede of deth, ne nothing that may falle unto a man, 
is so muchel ageins nature, as a man to encrese his 
owen profite, to harme of another man. And though 
the grete men and the mighty men geten richesses 
more lightly than thou, yet shalt thou not ben idel 
ue slowe to do thy profite, for thou shalt in alle 
wise flee idelnesse. For Salomon sayth, that idel- 
nesse techeth a man to do many eviles. And the 
same Salomon sayth, that he that travailleth and 


besieth him to tillen his lond, shal ete bred: but he 
that is idel, and caste th him to no besinesse ne oc 
cupation, shal falle into poverte, and die for hunger. 
And he that is idel and slow, can never find coven- 
able time for to do his profite. For ther is a versi- 
fiour sayth, that the idel man excuselh him in Win 
ter, because of the grete cold, and in Sommer by 
encheson of the hete. For thise causes, sayth Ca- 
ton, waketh, and enclineth you not over muchel to 
slepe, for over muchel reste norisheth and causeth 
many vices. And therfore sayth Seint Jerome ; 
Doeth som good dedes, that the devil which is oure 
enemie, ne finde you not unoccupied, for the devil 
ne taketh not lightly unto his werking swiche as he 
findeth occupied in goode werkes. 

Than thus in geting richesses ye musten flee 
idelnesse. And afterward ye shuln usen the 
richesses, which ye han geten by youre wit and by 
youre travaille, in swiche manere, that men holde 
you not to scarce ne to sparing, ne fool-large, that 
is to say, over large a spender : for right as men 
blamen an avaricious man, because of his scarcitee 
and chincherie, in the same wise is he to blame, 
that spendeth over largely. And therfore saith 
Caton : Use (sayth he) the richesses. that thou hast 
ygeten in swiche manere, that men have no matere 


ne cause to calle thee nother wretche ne chinche : 
for it is a gret shame to a man to have a poure 
herte and riche purse. He sayth also : the goodes 
that thou hast ygeten, use hem by mesure, that is 
to sayn, spende mesurably; for they that folily 
wasten and dispenden the goodes that they han, 
whan they han no more propre of hir owen, than 
they shapen hem to take the goodes of another 
man. I say than that ye shuln flee avarice, using 
youre riches ses in swiche manere, that men sayn 
not that your richesses ben yberied, but that ye 
have hem in youre might, and in youre welding. 
For a wise man repreveth the avaricious man, and 
sayth thus in two vers. Wherto and why berieth 
a man his goodes by his gret avarice, and knoweth 
wel, that nedes must he die, for deth is the end of 
every man, as in this present lif? and for what 
cause or encheson joineth he him, or knitteth he 
him so fast unto his goodes, that alle his wittes 
mown not disseveren him, or departen him from 
his goodes, and knoweth wel, or oughte to knowe, 
that whan he is ded, he shal nothing bere with him 
out of this world ? And therfore sayth Seint Augus 
tine, that the avaricious man is likened unto helle, 
that the more it swalweth, the more desir it hath to 
swalwe and devoure. And as wel as ye wolde 


eschue to be called an avaricious man or chinche, 
as wel shulde ye kepe you and governe you in 
swiche a wise, that men calle you not fool-large. 
Therfore saith Tullius : The goodes of thin hous ne 
shulde not ben hid ne kept so close, but that they 
might ben opened by pitee and debonairetee ; that 
is to sayn, to yeve hem part that han gret nede; ne 
thy goodes shulden not ben so open, to be every 
mannes goodes. Afterward, in geting of youre 
richesses, and in using of hem, ye shuln alway 
have three thinges in youre herte, that is to say, 
oure Lord God, conscience, and good name. First, 
ye shuln have God in youre herte, and for no ri- 
chesse ye shuln do no thing, which may in any 
manere displese God that is your creatour and 
maker. For after the word of Salomon, it is better 
to have a litel good with love of God, than 
to have muchel good, and lese the love of his 
Lord God. And the Prophete sayth, That better 
it is to ben a good man, and have litel good and 
tresor, than to be holden a shrewe, and have grete 
richesses. And yet I say forthermore, that ye 
shulden alway do youre besinesse to gete you 
richesses, so that ye gete hem with good conscience. 
And the Apostle sayth, that ther n'is thing in this 
world of which we shulden have so gret joye, as 


whan oure conscience bereth us good witnesse. 
And the Wise man sayth : The substaunce of a 
man is ful good, whan sinne is not in mannes con 
science. Afterward, in geting of youre richesses, 
and in using of hem, ye must have gret besinesse 
and gret diligence, that youre good name be alway 
kept and conserved. For Salomon sayth, that 
beter it is, and more it availeth a man to have a 
good name, than for to have grete richesses : and 
therfore he sayth in another place : Do grete dili 
gence (saith Salomon) in keping of thy frendes, 
and of thy good name, for it shal lenger abide with 
thee, than any tresor, be it never so precious. And 
certes, he shulde not be called a Gentilman, that 
after God and good conscience, alle thinges left, 
ne doth his diligence and besinesse, to kepen his 
good name. And Cassiodore sayth, that it is a 
signe of a gentil herte, whan a man loveth and, de- 
sireth to have a good name. And therfore sayth 
Seint Augustine, that ther ben two thinges that 
arn right necessarie and nedeful ; and that is good 
conscience, and good los ; that is to sayn, good 
conscience to thin owen persone inward, and good 
los for thy neighebour outward. And he that 
trosteth him so muchel in his good conscience, 
that he despiseth and setteth at nought his good 


name or los, and recketh not though he kepe not 
his good name, n'is but a cruel cherl. 

Sire, now have I shewed you how ye shulden do 
in geting richesses, and how ye shuln usen hem : 
and I see wel that for the trust that ye han in youre 
richesses, ye wiln meve werre and bataille. I con- 
seille you that ye beginne no bataille ne werre, in 
trust of youre richesses, for they ne sufficen not 
werres to mainteine. And therfore sayth a Philo- 
sophre : That man that desireth and wol algates 
han werre, shal never have suffisaunce : for the 
richer that he is, the greter dispences must he 
make, if he wol have worship and victorie. And 
Salomon saith, that the greter richesses that a man 
hath, the mo dispendours he hath. And, dere 
Sire, al be it so, that for your richesses ye moun 
have muchel folk, yet behoveth it not, ne it is not 
good to beginne werre, wheras ye moun in other 
manere have pees, unto youre worship and profite : 
for the victorie of batailles that ben in this world, 
lith not in gret nombre or multitude of peple, ne in 
the vertue of man, but it lith in the will and in the 
hond of oure Lord God almighty. And therfore 
Judas Machabeus, which was Goddes knight, whan 
he shulde fighte again his adversarie, that hadde a 


greter nombre and a greter multitude of folk, and 
strenger than was the peple of this Machabee, yet 
he recomforted his litel compagnie, and sayde 
right in this wise : Al so lightly (sayde he) may 
our Lord God almighty yeve victorie to a fewe folk, 
as to many folk; for the victorie of a bataille 
cometh not by the gret nombre of peple, but it 
cometh from oure Lord God of heven. And, dere 
Sire, for as muchel as ther is no man certaine, if it 
be worthy that God yeve him victorie or not, after 
that Salomon sayth, therfore every man shulde 
gretly drede werres to beginne : and because that 
in batailles fallen many perils, and it happeth other 
while, that as sone is the gret man slain, as the litel 
man ; and, as it is ywritten in the second book of 
Kinges, the dedes of batailles ben aventurous, and 
nothing certain, for as lightly is on hurt with a 
spere, as another; and for ther is gret peril in 
werre ; therfore shulde a man flee and eschue 
werre in as muchel as a man may goodly. For 
Salomon sayth : He that loveth peril, shal falle in 

After that Dame Prudence had spoken in this 
manere, Melibee answerd and saide : I see wel, 
dame Prudence, that by youre faire wordes and by 


youre resons, that ye han shewed me, that the 
werre liketh you nothing : but I have not yet herd 
your conseil, how I shal do in this nede. 

Certes, quod she, I conseille you that ye ac- 
corde with youre adversaries, and that ye have pees 
with hem. For Seint James sayth in his Epistle, 
that by Concorde and pees, the smale richesses 
wexen grete, and by debat and discorde grete rich- 
esses fallen doun. And ye knowen wel, that on of 
the gretest and moste soveraine thing that is in this 
world, is unitee and pees. And therfore sayde 
oure Lord Jesu Crist to his Apostles in this wise : 
Wel happy and blessed ben they that loven and 
purchasen pees, for they ben called the children of 
God. A, quod Melibee, now see I wel, that ye 
loven not min honour, ne my worshipe. Ye knowen 
wel that min adversaries han begonne this debat 
and brige by hir outrage, and ye see wel, that they 
ne requeren ne prayen me not of pees, ne they axen 
not to be reconciled; wol ye than that I go and 
meke me, and obeye me to hem, and crie hem 
mercie ? Forsoth that were not my worshipe : for 
right as men sayn, that overgret homlinesse en- 
gendreth dispreising, so fareth it by to gret humi- 
litee or mekenesse. 

Than began dame Prudence to make semblaunt 


of wrathe, and sayde : Certes, Sire, (sauf your 
grace) I love youre honour and youre profile, as I 
do min owen, and ever have don ; ye, ne non other, 
seyn never the contrary : and if I had sayde, that 
ye shulde han purchased the pees and the recon 
ciliation, I ne hadde not muchel mistake me, ne 
sayde amis. For the Wise man sayth : The dis- 
sention beginneth by another man, and the recon 
ciling beginneth by thyself. And the Prophete 
saith : Flee shrewednesse and do goodnesse ; seke 
pees and folwe it, in as muchel as in thee is. Yet 
say I not, that ye shuln rather pursue to youre ad 
versaries for pees, than they shuln to you : for I 
know wel that ye ben so hard- herted, that ye wol 
do nothing for me ; and Salomon sayth : he that 
hath over hard an herte, atte laste he shal mis-- 
happe and mistide. 

Whan Melibee had herd dame Prudence make 
semblaunt of wrath, he sayde in this wise. Dame, 
I pray you that ye be not displesed of thinges that 
I say, for I knowe wel that I am angry and wroth, 
and that is no wonder ; and they that ben wroth, 
woten not wel what they don, ne what they sayn. 
Therfore the Prophete sayth, that troubled eyen 
han no clere sighte. But sayth and conseilleth me 
as you liketh, for I am redy to do right as ye wol 


desire. And if ye repreve me of my folie, I am the 
more holden to love you and to preise you. For 
Salomon saith, that he that repreveth him that doth 
folie, he shal find greter grace, than he that de- 
ceiveth him by swete wordes. 

Than sayde Dame Prudence; I make no sem- 
blaunt of wrath ne of anger, but for youre grete 
profite. For Salomon saith : he is more worth, that 
repreveth or chideth a fool for his folie, shewing 
him semblaunt of wrath, than he that supporteth 
him and preiseth him in his misdoing, and laugheth 
at his folie. And this same Salomon saith after 
ward, that by the sorweful visage of a man, that is 
to sayn, by the sory and hevy countenance of a 
man, the fool correcteth and amendeth himself. 

Than said Melibee ; I shal not conne answere 
unto so many faire resons as ye putten to me and 
shewen : sayth shortly youre will and youre con- 
seil, and I am al redy to performe and fulfille it. 

Than Dame Prudence discovered all hire will 
unto him and saide : I conseille you, quod she, 
above alle thinges that ye make pees betwene God 
and you, and be reconciled unto him and to his 
grace, for as I have sayde you herebeforen, God 
hath suffered you to have this tribulation and disese 
for youre sinnes : and if ye do as I say you, God 


wol sende youre adversaries unto you, and make 
hem falle at youre feet, redy to do youre will 
and youre commaundements. For Salomon sayth ; 
whan the condition of man is plesaunt and liking 
.to God, he chaungeth the hertes of the mannes 
adversaries, and constreineth hem to besechen him 
of pees and of grace. And I pray you let me speke 
with your adversaries in privee place, for they 
shuln not knowe that it be of youre will or youre 
assent : and than, whan I knowe hir will and hir 
entente, I may conseille you the more seurely. 

Dame, quod Melibeus, doth youre will and youre 
liking, for I putte me holly in youre disposition and 

Than Dame Prudence, when she sey the good 
will of hire husbond, delibered unto hire, and toke 
avis in hire self, thinking how she might bring this 
nede unto goode ende. And whan she sey hire 
time, she sent for thise adversaries to come unto 
hire in to a privee place, and shewed wisely unto 
hem the grete goodes that comen of pees, and the 
grete harmes and perils that ben in werre ; and 
saide to hem in a goodly manere, how that hem 
oughte have gret repentaunce of the injuries and 
wronges, that they hadden don to Melibeus hire 
lord, and unto hire and to hire doughter. 


And whan they herden the goodly wordes of 
Dame Prudence, they weren so surprised and 
ravished, and hadden so gret joye of hire, that won 
der was to telle. A, lady, quod they, ye have 
shewed unto us the blessing of sweteriesse, after 
the saying of David the Prophete ; for the recon 
ciling, which we be not worthy to have in no ma- 
nere, but we oughten requeren it with grete con 
trition and humilitee, ye of youre grete goodnesse 
have presented unto us. Now see we wel, that the 
science and conning of Salomon is ful trewe ; for he 
saith swete wordes multiplien and encresen frendes, 
and maken shrewes to be debonaire and meke. 

Certes, quod they, we putten oure dede, and all 
oure matere and cause, al holly in youre good will, 
and ben redy to obeye unto the speche and com- 
maundement of my lord Melibeus. And therfore, 
dere and benigne lady, we praye you and beseche 
you as mekely as we conne and moun, that it like 
unto youre grete goodnesse to fulfille in dede youre 
goodly wordes. For we consideren and knowe- 
lechen, that we han offended and greved my lord 
Melibeus out of mesure, so fer forth, that we ben 
not of power to maken him amendes ; and therfore 
we oblige and binde us and oure frendes, for to do 
all his will and his commaundements : but peraven- 


ture he hath swiche hevinesse and swiche wrath to 
us ward, because of oure offence, that he wol enjoy- 
nen us swiche a peine, as we moun not here ne sus- 
teine ; and therfore, noble ladie, we beseche to youre 
womanly pittee to take swiche avisement in this 
nede, that we, ne oure frendes, ben not disherited 
and destroied, thurgh oure folie. 

Certes, quod Prudence, it is an hard thing and 
right perilous, that a man putte him all outrely in 
the arbitration and jugement, and in the might and 
power of his enemie : for Salomon sayth : leveth me, 
and yeveth credence to that that I shall say : to thy 
sone, to thy wif, to thy frend, ne to thy brother, ne 
yeve thou never might ne maistrie over thy body, 
while thou livest. Now, sith he defendeth that a 
man shulde not yeve to his brother, ne to his frend, 
the might of his body, by a strenger reson he de 
fendeth and forbedeth a man to yeve himself to his 
enemy. And natheles, I conseille you that ye mis- 
truste not my lord : for I wot wel and know veraily, 
that he is debonaire and meke, large, curteis, and 
nothing desirous ne coveitous of good ne richesse : 
for ther is nothing in this world that he desireth, 
save only worshipe and honour. Forthermore I 
know wel, and am right sure, that he shal nothing 
do in this nede withouten my conseil ; and I shal so 


werken in this cas, that by the grace of oure Lord 
God ye shuln be reconciled unto us. 

Than saiden they with o vois ; worshipful lady, 
we putten us and oure goodes al fully in youre will 
and disposition, and ben redy to come, what day 
that it like unto youre noblesse to limite us or 
assigne us, for to make oure obligation and bond, as 
strong as it liketh unto youre goodnesse, that we 
moun fulfille the will of you and of my lord Melibee. 

Whan Dame Prudence had herd the answer of 
thise men, she bad hem go agein prively, and she 
retourned to hire lord Melibee, and told him how 
she fond his adversaries ful repentaunt, knowlech- 
ing ful lowly hir sinnes and trespas, and how they 
weren redy to suffren all peine, requering and prey 
ing him of mercy and pitee. 

Than saide Melibee ; he is wel worthy to have 
pardon and foryevenesse of his sinne, that excuseth 
not his sinne, but knowlecheth, and repenteth him, 
axing indulgence. For Senek saith ; ther is the re 
mission and foryevenesse, wher as the confession is ; 
for confession is neighebour to innocence. And 
therefore 1 assente and conferme me to have pees, 
but it is good that we do nought withouten the as 
sent and will of oure frendes. 

Than was Prudence right glad and joyeful, and 



saide ; certes, sire, ye ban wel and goodly answered : 
for right as by the conseil, assent, and helpe of your 
frendes, ye han be stired to venge you and make 
werre : right so withouten hir conseil shul ye not 
accord you, ne have pees with youre adversaries. 
For the lawe saith : ther is nothing so good by way 
of kinde, as a thing to be unbounde by him that it 
was ybounde. 

And than Dame Prudence, withouten delay or 
tarying, sent anon hire messageres for hir kin and 
for hir olde frendes, which that were trewe and wise : 
and told hem by ordre, in the presence of Melibee, 
all the matere, as it is above expressed and declared ; 
and preied hem that they wold yeve hir avis and 
conseil, what were best to do in this nede. And 
whan Melibeus frendes hadden taken hir avis and 
deliberation of the foresaid matere, and hadden ex 
amined it by gret besinesse and gret diligence, they 
yaven ful conseil for to have pees and reste, and 
that Melibee shulde receive with good herte his ad 
versaries to foryevenesse and mercy. 

And whan dame Prudence had herd the assent of 
hire lord Melibee, and the conseil of his frendes, 
accord with hire will and hire entention, she was 
wonder glad in hire herte, and sayde : ther is an 
olde Proverbe, quod she, sayth, that the goodnesse 


that thou maist do this day, do it, and abide not, ne 
delay it not til to morwe : and therfore I conseille, 
that ye sende youre messageres, swiche as ben dis 
crete and wise, unto youre adversaries, telling hem 
on youre behalf, that if they wol trete of pees and of 
accord, that they shape hem, withouten delay or 
tarying, to come unto us. Which thing parfourmed 
was indede. And whan thise trespasours and re 
penting folk of hir folies, that is to sayn, the adver 
saries of Melibee, hadden herd what thise messa 
geres sayden unto hem, they weren right glade and 
joyeful, and answerden ful mekely and benignely, 
yelding graces and thankinges to hir lord Melibee, 
and to all his compagnie : and shopen hem with 
outen delay to go with the messageres, and obeye 
to the commaundement of hir lord Melibee. 

And right anon they token hir way to the court 
of Melibee, and token with hem some of hir trewe 
frendes, to make feith for hem, and for to ben hir 
borwes. And whan they were comen to the pre 
sence of Melibee, he saide hem thise wordes : it 
stant thus, quod Melibee, and soth it is, that ye 
causeles, and withouten skill and reson, han don 
grete injuries and wronges to me, and to my wif 
Prudence, and to my doughter also, for ye han 
entred into myn hous by violence, and have don 


swiche outrage, that alle men knowen wel that ye 
han deserved the deth : and therfore wol I know 
and wete of you, whether ye wol putte the punish 
ing and chastising, and the vengeaunce of this out 
rage, in the will of me and of my wif, or ye wol not. 

Than the wisest of hem three answered for hem 
alle, and saide. Sire, quod he, we knowen wel, 
that we ben unworthy to come to the court of so 
gret a lord and so worthy as ye ben, for we han so 
gretly mistaken us, and han offended and agilte in 
swiche wise agein youre high lordshipe, that trewely 
we han deserved the deth ; but yet for the grete 
goodnesse and debonairetee, that all the world 
witnesseth of youre persone, wesubmitten us to the 
excellence and benignitee of youre gracious lord 
shipe, and ben redy to obeye to alle youre co- 
mandements, beseching you, that of youre merciable 
pitee ye wol considere oure grete repentance and 
lowe submission, and graunte us foryevenesse of 
oure outragious trespas and offence : for wel we 
knowen, that youre liberal grace and mercie stretchen 
hem forther into goodnesse, than don oure outragi 
ous giltes and trespas into wickednesse ; al be it 
that cursedly and dampnably we han agilte again 
youre highe lordshipe. 

Than Melibee toke hem up fro the ground ful 


benignely, and received hir obligations, and hir 
bondes, by hir othes upon hir plegges and borwes, 
and assigned hem a certain day to retourne unto 
his court for to receive and accept sentence and 
jugement, that Melibee wolde commande to be don 
on hem, by the causes aforesaid ; which thinges or- 
deined, every man retourned to his hous. 

And whan that dame Prudence saw hire time, 
she freined and axed hire lord Melibee, what ven 
geance he thoughte to taken of his adversaries. 

To which Melibee answered, and said : certes, 
quod he, I thinke and purpose me fully to disherite 
hem of all that ever they han, and for to putte hem 
in exile for ever. 

Certes, quod Dame Prudence, this were a cruel 
sentence, and muchel agein reson. For ye ben 
riche ynough, and han no nede of other mennes 
good ; and ye might lightly in this wise gete you a 
coveitous name, which is a vicious thing, and oughte 
to ben eschewed of every good man : for after the 
sawe of the Apostle, coveitise is rote of alle harmes. 
And therfore it were better for you to lese muchel 
good of your owen, than for to tajte of hir good in 
this manere. For better it is to lese good with 
worship, than to winne good with vilanie and shame. 
And every man oughte to do his diligence and his 


besinesse, to gete him a good name. And yet shal 
he not only besie him in keping his good name, 
but he shal also enforcen him alway to do som 
thing, by which he may renovelle his good name : 
for it is written, that the olde good los, or good 
name, of a man is sone gon and passed, whan it 
is not newed. And as touching that ye sayn, 
that ye wol exile your adversaries, that thiuketh 
me muchel agein reson, and out of mesure, con 
sidered the power that they han yeven you upon 
hemself. And it is written, that he is worthy 
to lese his privilege, that misuseth the might and 
the power that is yeven him. And I sette cas, ye 
might enjoine hem that peine by right and by lawe, 
(which I trowe ye mowe not do) I say, ye might 
not putte it to execution peraventure, and than it 
were like to retourne to the werre, as it was beforn. 
And therfore if ye wol that men do you obeisaunce, 
ye must deme more curteisly, that is to sayn, ye 
must yeve more esie sentences and jugements. 
For it is written : he that most curteisly command- 
eth, to him men most obeyen. And therfore I pray 
you, that in this necessitee and in this nede ye 
caste you to overcome youre herte. For Senek 
sayth, that he that overcometh his herte, over- 
cometh twies And Tullius saith : ther is nothing 


so commendable in a gret lord, as whan he is de- 
bonaire and meke, and appeseth him lightly. And 
I pray you, that ye wol now forbere to do ven- 
geaunce, in swiche a manere, that your good name 
may be kept and conserved, and that men mown 
have cause and matere to preise you of pitee and of 
mercy; and that ye have no cause to repente you 
of thing that ye don. For Seneke saieth : he over- 
cometh in an evil manere, that repenteth him of his 
victorie. Wherfore I pray you let mercy be in 
youre herte, to the effect and entente, that God 
almighty have mercy upon you in his last juge- 
ment : for seint James saith in his Epistle : juge- 
ment withoute mercy shal be do to him, that hath 
no mercy of another wight. 

Whan Melibee had heard the grete skilles and 
resons of dame Prudence, and hire wise informa 
tions and techinges, his herte gan encline to the 
will of his wif, considering hire trewe entente, en 
forced him anon and assented fully to werken after 
hire conseil, and thanked God, of whom procedeth 
all goodnesse and all vertue, that him sent a wif of 
so gret discretion. And whan the day came that 
his adversaries shulde appere in his presence, he 
spake to hem ful goodly, and saide in this wise. 
Al be itso, that of youre pride and high presump- 


tion and folie, and of youre negligence and uneon- 
ning, ye have misborne you, and trespased unto 
me, yet for as muchel as 1 see and behold youre 
grete humilitee, and that ye ben sory and repentant 
of youre giltes, i/t constreineth me to do you grace 
and mercy : wherfore I receive you into my grace, 
and foryeve you outrely alle the offences, injuries, 
and wronges, that ye have don agein me and mine, 
to this effect and to this ende, that God of his 
endeles mercie wol at the time of oure dying foryeve 
us oure giltes, that we han tresps^ed to him in this 
wretched world : for douteles, if we be sory and 
repentant of the sinnes and giltes, which we han 
trespased in the sight of oure Lord God, he is so 
free and so merciable, that he wol foryeven us oure 
giltes, and bringen us to the blisse that never hath 
ende. Amen. 


WHAN ended was my tale of Melibee, 13395 

And of Prudence and hire benignitee, 
Our hoste saide ; as I am faithful man, 
And by the precious corpus Madrian, 
I hadde lever than a barell of ale, 
That goode lefe my wif had herde this tale : 13900 


For she n'is no thing of swiche patience, 13901 

As was this Melibeus wif Prudence. 

By Goddes bones, whan I bete my knaves, 
She bringeth me the grete clobbed staves, 
And cryeth ; slee the dogges everich on. 
And breke hem bothe bak and every bon. 

And if that any neighebour of mine 
Wol not in chirche to my wif encline, 
Or be so hardy to hire to trespace, 13909 

Whan she cometh home she rampeth in my face, 
And cryeth ; false coward, wreke thy wif : 
By corpus Domini, I wol have thy knif, 
And thou shalt have my distaf, and go spinne. 
Fro day til night right thus she wol beginne. 

Alas, she saith, that ever I was yshape 
To wed a milksop, or a coward ape, 
That wol ben overladde with every wight ! 13917 
Thou darst not stonden by thy wives right. 

This is my lif, but if that I wol fight, 
And out at dore anon I mote me dight, 
Or elles I am lost, but if that I 
Be like a wilde leon, fool-hardy. 

I wote wel she wol do me slee som day 
Som neighebour, and thanne go my way, 
For I am perilous with knif in honde, 
Al be it that I dare not hire withstonde : i392fi 


For she is bigge in armes by my faith, 13927 

That shal he finde, that hire misdoth or saith. 
But let us passe away fro this matere. 

My lord the Monk, quod he, be mery of chere, 
For ye shul telle a tale trewely. 
Lo, Rouchester stondeth here faste by. 
Ride forth, min owen lord, breke not our game. 
But by my trouthe I can not telle youre name ; 
Whether shal I call you my lord Dan John, 13935 
Or Dan Thomas, or elles Dan Albon ? 
Of what hous be ye, by your fader kin ? 
I vow to God, thou hast a ful faire skin ; 
It is a gentil pasture ther thou gost ; 
Thou art not like a penaunt or a gost. 

Upon my faith thou art som officer, 
Som worthy sextein, or som celerer. 
For by my fadres soule, as to my dome, 13.943 

Thou art a maister, whan thou art at home ; 
No poure cloisterer, ne non novice, 
But a governour bothe ware and wise, 
And therwithal of braunes and of bones 
A right wel faring persone for the nones. 
I pray to God yeve him confusion, 
That first thee brought into religion. 
Thou woldest han ben a trede-foul a right, 
Haddest thou as grete leve, as thou hast might, 13952 


To parfourme all thy lust in engendrure, 

Thou haddest begeten many a creature. 

Alas ! why werest thou so wide a cope ? 

God yeve me sorwe, but, and I were pope, 

Not only thou but every mighty man, 

Though he were shore ful high upon his pan, 

Shuld have a wif, for al this world is lorn; 

Religion hath take up all the corn 

Of treding, and we borel men ben shrimpes : 13961 

Of feble trees ther comen wretched impes. 

This maketh that our heires ben so sclendre 

And feble, that they moun not wel engendre. 

This maketh that our wives wol assaye 

Religious folk, for they moun better paye 

Of Venus payementes than mowen we : 

God wote, no lusheburghes payen ye. 

But be not wroth, my lord, though that I play ; 1396.0 

Ful oft in game a sothe have I herd say. 

This worthy Monke toke all in patience, 
And saide; I wol don all my diligence, 
As fer as sourieth into honestee, 
To tellen you a tale, or two or three, cr e M&\fau^ 
And if you list to herken hiderward, 
I wol you sayn the lif of Seint Edward ; 
Or elles tragedies first I wol telle. 
Of which I have an hundred in my celle. 1 3.978 


Tragedie is to sayn a certain storie, 13979 

As olde bookes maken us memorie, 
Of him that stood in gret prosperitee, 
And is yfallen out of high degree 
In to miserie, and endeth wretchedly. / 
And they ben versified coramunly 
Of six feet, which men clepen exametron : 
In prose eke ben endited many on, 
And eke in metre, in many a sondry wise. 13937 
Lo, this declaring ought ynough suffice. 

Now herkeneth, if you liketh for to here. 
But first I you beseche in this matere, 
Though I by ordre telle not thise thinges, 
Be it of popes, emperoures, or kinges, 
After hir ages, as men written finde, 
But telle hem som before and som behinde, 
As it now cometh to my remembrance, 13995 

Have me excused of min ignorance. 


I WOL bewaile in manere of tragedie 
The harm of hem, that stode in high degree, 
And fellen so, that ther n'as no remedie 
To bring hem out of hir adversitee./ 
For certain whan that fortune list to flee, 14001 


Ther may no man of hire the cours withholde : 14002 
Let no man trust on blinde prosperitee ; 
Beth ware by thise ensamples trewe and olde. 


At Lucifer, though he an angel were 
And not a man, at him I wol beginne. 
For though fortune may non angel dere, 
From high degree yet. fell he for his sinne uoos 
Doun into helle, wheras he yet is inne. 
O Lucifer, brightest of angels alle, 
Now art thou Sathanas, that maist not twinne 
Out of miserie, in which that thou art falle. 


Lo Adam, in the feld of Damascene 
With Goddes owen ringer wrought was he, HOU 
And not begeten of rnannes sperme unclene, 
And welte all Paradis saving o tree : 
Had never worldly man so high degree 
As Adam, til he for misgovernance 
Was driven out of his prosperitee 
To labour, and to helle, and to meschance. 

Lo Sampson, which that was annunciat 14021 


By the angel, long or his nativitee : 14022 

And was to God Almighty consecrat, 

And stode in noblesse while he mighte see : 

Was never swiche another as was he, 

To speke of strength, and therto hardinesse ; 

But to his wives tolde he his secree, 

Thurgh which he slow himself for wretchednesse. 

Sampson, this noble and mighty champion, 14029 
Withouten wepen, save his handes twey, 
He slow and all to-rente the leon, 
Toward his wedding walking by the wey : 
His false wif coude him so plese, and pray, 
Til she his conseil knewe ; and she untrewe 
Unto his foos his conseil gan bewray, 
And him forsoke, and toke another newe. 

Three hundred foxes toke Sampson for ire, 14037 
And all hir tayles he togeder bond : 
And set the foxes tayles all on fire, 
For he in every tayl had knit a brond. 
And they brent all the cornes in that lond, 
And all hir oliveres, and vines eke. 
A thousand men he slow eke with his hond, 
And had no wepen, but an asses cheke. 

Whan they were slain, so thurstedhim, that he 14045 


Was wel nie lorne, for which he gan to preye, 14046 
That God wold on his peine han som pitee, 
And send him drinke, or elles moste be deye : 
And of this asses cheke, that was so dreye, 
Out of a wang toth sprang anon a welle, 
Of which he dranke ynough, shortly to seye. 
Thus halp him God, as Judicum can telle. 

By veray force at Gasa on a night, 14053 

Maugre the Philistins of that citee, 
The gates of the toun he hath up plight, 
And on his bak ycaried hem hath he 
High on an hill, wher as men might hem se. 
O noble mighty Sampson, lefe and dere, 
Haddest thou not told to women thy secree, 
In all this world ne had ther ben thy pere. 

This Sampson never sider drank ne wine, 14061 
Ne on his hed came rasour non ne shere, 
By precept of the messager divine, 
For all his strengthes in his heres were : 
And fully twenty winter yere by yere 
He hadde of Israel the governance : 
But sone shal he wepen many a tere, 
For women shuln him bringen to meschance. 

Unto his lemman Dalida he told, 14069 


That in his heres all his strengthe lay, 14070 

And falsely to his fomen she him sold ; 

And sleping in hire barme upon a day 

She made to clip or shere his here away, 

And made his fomen all his craft espien ; 

And whan that they him fond in this array, 

They bond him fast, and putten out his eyen. 

But or his here was clipped or yshave, 14077 

Ther was no bond, with which men might him bind. 
But now is he in prison in a cave, . 
Wheras they made him at the querne grinde. 
O noble Sampson, strongest of mankind, 
O whilom juge in glory and richesse, 
Now mayest thou wepen with thin eyen blind, 
Sith thou fro wele art falle in wretchednesse. 

The ende of this caitif was, as I shal seye : MOSS 
His fomen made a feste upon a day, 
And made him as hir fool before hem pleye : 
And this was in a temple of gret array. 
But at the last he made a foule affray, 
For he two pillers shoke, and made hem falle, 
And doun fell temple and all, and ther it lay, 
And slow himself, and eke his fomen alle. 

This is to sayn, the princes everich on, 14093 


And eke three thousand bodies were ther slain 14094 

With falling of the gret temple of ston. 

Of Sampson now wol I no more sain : 

Beth ware by this ensample old and plain, 

That no men tell hir conseil to hir wives 

Of swiche thing, as they wold han secree fain, 

If that it touch hir limmes or hir lives. 


Of Hercules the soveraine conquerour 14101 

Singen his werkes laude, and high renoun ; 
For in his time of strength he was the flour. 
He slow and raft the skinne of the leon ; 
He of Centaures laid the bost adoun ; 
He Harpies slow, the cruel briddes felle ; 
He golden apples raft fro the dragon ; 
He drow out Cerberus the hound of helle. 14108 

He slow the cruel tirant Busirus, 
And made his hors to fret him flesh and bon ; 
He slow the firy serpent venemous ; 
Of Achelous two homes brake he on. 
And he slow Cacus in a cave of ston ; 
He slow the geaunt Anteus the strong ; 
He slow the grisely bore, and that anon ; 
And bare the hevene on his nekke long. 14116 



Was never wight sith that the world began, 14117 
That slow so many monstres, as did he ; 
Thurghout the wide world his name ran, 
What for his strength; and for his high bountee ; 
And every reaume went he for to see, 
He was so strong that no man might him let ; 
At bothe the worldes endes, saith Trophee, 
In stede of boundes he a piller set. 

A lemman had this noble champion, 14125 

That highte Deianire, as fresh as May ; 
And as thise clerk es maken mention, 
She hath him sent a sherte fresh and gay : 
Alas ! this sherte, alas and wala wa ! 
Envenimed was sotilly withalle, 
That or that he had wered it half a day, 
It mede his flesh all from his bones falle. 14132 

But natheles som clerkes hire excusen 
By no, that highte Nessus, that it maked ; 
Be as may be, I wol hire not accusen ; 
But on his bak this sherte he wered al naked, 
Til that his flesh was for the venim blaked : 
And whan he saw non other remedie ; 
In hote coles he hath himselven raked, 
For with no venime deigned him to die. 14140 


Thus starf this worthy mighty Hercules. 14141 
Lo, who may trust on fortune any throw ? 
For him that folweth all this world of pres, 
Or he be ware, is oft ylaid ful lowe : 
Ful wise is he, that can himselven knowe. 
Beth ware, for whan that fortune list to glose, 
Than waiteth she hire man to overthrowe 
By swiche a way, as he wold lest suppose. 14148 


The mighty trone, the precious tresor, 
The glorious sceptre, and real majestee, 
That hadde the king Nabuchodonosor, 
With tonge unnethes may descrived be. 
He twies wan Jerusalem the citee, 
The vessell of the temple he with him ladde ; 
At Babiloine was his soveraine see, 14155 

In which his glorie and his delit he hadde. 

The fayrest children of the blood real 
Of Israel he did do gelde anon, 
And maked eche of hem to ben his thral. 
Amonges other Daniel was on, 
That was the wisest child of everich on ; 
For he the dremes of the king expouned, 
Wher as in Caldee clerk ne was ther non, 
That wiste to what fin his dremes souned. 14164 


This proude king let make a statue of gold 14165 
Sixty cubites long, and seven in brede, 
To which image bothe yonge and old 
Commanded he to loute, and have in drede, 
Or in a fourneis, ful of flames rede, 
He shuld be brent, that wolde not obeye : 
But never wold assenten to that dede 
Daniel, ne his yonge felawes tweye. 

This king of kinges proud was and elat ; 14173 
He wend that God, that sit in majestee, 
Ne might him nat bereve of his estat ; 
But sodenly he lost his dignitee, 
And like a best him semed for to be, 
And ete hey as an oxe, and lay therout : 
In rain with wilde bestes walked he, 
Til certain time was ycome about. uiso 

And like an egles fethers wex his heres, 
His neyles like a briddes clawes were, 
Til God relesed him at certain yeres. 
And yaf him wit, and than with many a tere 
He thanked God, and ever his lif in fere 
Was he to don amis, or more trespace : 
And til that time he laid was on his bere, 
He knew that God was ful of might and grace. MISS 



His sone, which thathighte Balthasar, 14159 
That held the regne after his fadres day, 
He by his fader coude not beware, 
For proude he was of herte, and of array : 
And eke an ydolaster was he ay. 
His high estat assured him in pride; 
But fortune cast him doun (and ther he lay) 
And sodenlyhis regne gan devide. 14196 

A feste he made unto his lordes alle 
Upon a time, and made hem blithe be, 
And than his officeres gan he calle ; 
Goth, bringeth forthe the vessels, quod he, 
Which that my fader in his prosperitee 
Out of the temple of Jerusalem beraft, 
And to our highe goddes thanke we 14203 

Of honour, that our eldres with us laft. 

His wif, his lordes, and his concubines 
Ay dronken, while hir appetites last, 
Out of thise noble vessels sondry wines. 
And on a wall this king his eyen cast, 
And saw an hand armies, that wrote ful fast, 
For fere of whiche he quoke, and siked sore. 
This hand, that Balthasar so sore agast, 
Wrote Mane techel phares, and no more. 14212 


In al that lond Magicien was non, 14213 

That coud expounen what this lettre merit, 
But Daniel expouned it anon, 
And said ; O king, God to thy fader lent 
Glorie and honour, regne, tresour, and rent ; 
And he was proud, and nothing God ne dradde ; 
And therfore God gret wreche upon him sent, 
And him beraft the regne that he hadde. 

He was out cast of mannes compagnie, 14221 
With asses was his habitation ; 
And ete hey, as a best, in wete and drie, 
Til that he knew by grace and by reson, 
That God of heven hath domination 
Over every regne, and every creature : 
And than had God of him compassion, 
And him restored his regne and his figure. 14228 

Eke thou, that art his sone, art proud also, 
And knowest all thise thinges veraily ; 
And art rebel to God, and art his fo. 
Thou dranke eke of his vessels boldely, 
Thy wif eke, and thy wenches sinfully 
Dranke of the same vessels sondry wines, 
And heried false goddes cursedly, 
Therfore to thee yshapen ful gret pine is. 14236 


This hand was sent fro God, that on the wall 14237 
Wrote Mane techel phares, trusteth me ; 
Thy regne is don, thou weyest nought at all ; 
Divided is thy regne, and it shal be 
To Medes and to Perses yeven, quod he. 
And thilke same night this king was slawe ; 
And Darius occupied his degree. 
Though he therto had neither right ne lawe. 

Lordinges, ensample hereby moun ye take, 14245 
How that in lordship is no sikernesse : 
For whan that fortune wol a man forsake, 
She bereth away his regne and his richesse, 
And eke his frendes, bothe more and lesse. 
For what man that hath frendes thurgh fortune, 
Mishap wol make hem enemies, I gesse. 
This proverbe is ful soth, and ful commune. 


Zenobia, of Palmerie the quene, 14252 

(As writen Persiens of hire noblesse) 
So worthy was in armes, and so kene, 
That no wight passed hire in hardinesse, 
Ne in linage, ne in other gentillesse. 
Of kinges blood of Perse is she descended ; 
I say not that she hadde most fairenesse, 
But of hire shape she might not ben amended. 14260 


From hire cliildhode I finde that she fledde 14261 
Office of woman, and to wode she went ; 
And many a wilde hartes blood she shedde 
With arwes brode that she to hem sent ; 
She was so swift, that she anon hem hent. 
And whan that she was elder, she wold kille 
Leons, lepards, and beres al to-rent, 
And in hire armes weld hem at hire wille. 

She dorst the wilde bestes dennes seke, 14269 
And rennen in the mountaignes all the night, 
And slepe under the bush ; and she coud eke 
Wrastlen by veray force and veray might 
With any yong man, were he never so wight ; 
Ther mighte nothing in hire armes stonde ; 
She kept hire maidenhode from every wight, 
To no man deigned hire for to be bonde. 14276' 

But at the last hire frendes han hire maried 
To Odenat, a prince of that contree ; 
Al were it so, that she hem longe taried. 
And ye shul understonden, how that he 
Hadde swiche fantasies as hadde she ; 
But natheles, whan they were knit in fere, 
They lived in joye, and in felicitee, 
For eche of hem had other lefe and dere. i42st 


Save o thing, that she n'olde never assente, 14235 
By no way, that he shulde by hire lie 
But ones, for it was hire plaine entente 
To have a childe, the world to multiplie ; 
And al so sone as that she might espie, 
That she was not with childe with that dede, 
Than would she suffer him don his fantasie 
Eftsone, and not but ones out of drede. 

And if she were with child at thilke cast, 1 4293 
No more shuld he playen thilke game 
Till fully fourty dayes weren past : 
Than wold she ones suffre him do the same. 
Al were this Odenate wild or tame, 
He gate no more of hire, for thus she sayde, 
It was to wives lecherie and shame, 
In other cas if that men with hem playde. 14300 

Two sones by this Odenate had she, 
The which she kept in vertue and lettrure. 
But now unto our tale turne we : 
I say, so worshipful a creature, 
And wise therwith, and large with mesure, 
So penible in the werre, and curteis eke, 
Ne more labour might in werre endure, 14307 

Was non, though al this world men shulden seke. 


Hire riche array ne mighte not be told, 1430.9 
As wel in vessell as in hire clothing : 
She was al clad in pierrie and in gold, 
And eke she lefte not for non hunting 
To have of sondry tonges ful knowing, 
Whan that she leiser had, and for to entend 
To lernen bookes was all hire liking, 
How she in vertue might hire lif dispend. 

And shortly of this storie for to trete, 14317 

So doughty was hire husbond and eke she, 
That they conquered many regnes grete 
In the Orient, with many a faire citee, 
Appertenaunt unto the majestee 
Of Rome, and with strong hand held hem ful fast, 
Ne never might hir fomen don hem flee, 
Ay while that Odenates dayes last. 14324 

Hire batailles, who so list hem for to rede, 
Againe Sapor the king, and other mo, 
And how that all this processe fell in dede, 
Why she conquered, and what title therto, 
And after of hire mischefe and hire wo, 
How that she was beseged, and ytake, 
Let him unto my maister Petrark go, 
That writeth ynough of this, I undertake. 14332 


Whan Odenate was ded, she mightily 14333 

The regnes held, and with hire propre hond 
Agains hire fos she fought so cruelly, 
That ther n'as king ne prince in all that lond, 
That he n'as glad, if he that grace fond 
That she ne wolde upon his lond werreye : 
With hire they maden alliaunce by bond 
To ben in pees, and let hire ride and pleye. 

The emperour of Rome Claudius, 14341 

Ne, him beforn, the Romain Galien 
Ne dorste never be so corageous, 
Ne non Ermin, ne non Egiptien, 
Ne Surrien, ne non Arabien 
Within the feld ne dorste with hire fight, 
Lest that she wold hem with hire hondes slen ? 
Or with hire meinie putten hem to flight. 14348 

In kinges habite wente hire sones two, 
As heires of hir fadres regnes alle, 
And Heremanno and Timolao 
Hir names were, as Persiens hem calle. 
But ay fortune hath in hire hony galle : 
This mighty quene may no while endure, 
Fortune out of hire regne made hire falle 
To wretchednesse, and to misaventure. 14356 


Aurelian, whan that the governance 14357 

Of Rome came into his hondes twey. 
He shope upon this queue to do vengeance, 
And with his legions he toke his way 
Toward Zenobie, and shortly for to say, 
He made hire flee, and atte last hire hent, 
And fettred hire, and eke hire children tway, 
And wan the lond, and home to Rome he went. 

Amonges other thinges that he wan, 14365 

Hire char, that was with gold wrought and pierrie, 
This grete Remain, this Aurelian 
Hath with him lad, for that men shuld it see. 
Beforen his triumphe walketh she 
With gilte chaines on hire necke honging, 
Crouned she was, as after hire degree, 
And ful of pierrie charged hire clothing. 14372 

Alas fortune ! she that whilom was 
Dredeful to kinges and to emperoures, 
Now gaureth all the peple on hire, alas ! 
And she that helmed was in starke stoures, 
And wan by force tounes stronge and toures, 
Shal on hire hed now were a vitremite : 
And she that bare the sceptre ful of floures, 
Shal bere a distaf hire cost for to quite. 14380 



Although that Nero were as vicious, 14331 

As any fend, that lith ful low adoun, 
Yet he, as telleth us Suetonius, 
This wide world had in subjectioun, 
Both Est and West, South and Septentrioun. 
Of rubies, saphires, and of perles white 
Were all his clothes brouded up and doun, 
For he in gemmes gretly gan delite. 14388 

More delicat, more pompous of array, 
More proude, was never emperour than he ; 
That ilke cloth that he had wered o day, 
After that time he n'olde it never see ; 
.Nettes of gold threde had he gret plentee, 
To fish in Tiber, whan him list to play ; 
His lustes were as law, in his degree, 14395 

For fortune as his frend wold him obay. 

He Rome brente for his delicacie ; 
The senatours he slow upon a day, 
To heren how that men wold wepe and crie ; 
And slow his brother, and by his suster lay 
His moder made he in pitous array, 
For he hire wombe let slitten, to behold 
Wher he conceived was, so wala wa ! 
That he so litel of his moder told. 14404 


No tere out of his eyeu for that sight 14405 

Ne came, but sayd, a faire woman was she. 
Gret wonder is, how that he coud or might 
Be domesman of hire dede beautee : 
The wine to bringen him commanded he, 
And dranke anon, non other wo he made. 
Whan might is joined unto crueltee, 
Alas ! to depe wol the venime wade. 14413 

In youthe a maister had this emperour 
To techen him lettrure and curtesie, 
For of moralitee he was the flour, 
As in his time, but if bookes lie. 
And while this maister had of him maistrie, 
He maked him so conning and so souple, 
That longe time it was, or tyrannie, 
Or any vice dorst in him uncouple. 14420 

This Seneka, of which that I devise, 
Because Nero had of him swiche drede, 
For he fro vices wold him ay chastise 
Discretly, as by word, and not by dede, 
Sire, he wold say, an emperour mote nede 
Be vertuous, and haten tyrannie. 
For which he made him in a bathe to blede 
On bothe his armes, till he muste die. 14428 


This Nero had eke of a custumaunce 14429 

In youth ageins his maister for to rise ; 
Which afterward him thought a gret grevaunce, 
Therfore he made him dien in this wise. 
But natheles this Seneka the wise 
Chees in a bathe to die in this manere, 
Rather than han another turmentise : 
And thus hath Nero slain his maister dere. 

Now fell it so, that fortune list no lenger 14437 
The highe pride of Nero to cherice : 
For though that he were strong, yet was she strenger. 
She thoughte thus ; by God I am to nice 
To set a man, that is fulfilled of vice, 
In high degree, and emperour him calle : 
By God out of his sete I wol him trice, 
Whan he lest weneth, sonest shal he falle. 14444 

The peple rose upon him on a night 
For his defaute, and whan he it espied, 
Out of his dores anon he hath him dight 
Alone, and ther he wend han ben allied, 
He knocked fast, and ay the more he cried, 
The faster shetten they hir dores alle : 
Tho wist he wel he had himself misgied, 
And went his way, no lenger dorst he calle. 14452 


The peple cried and rombled up and doun, 14453 
That with his eres herd he how they sayde, 
Wher is this false tyrant, this Neroun ? 
For fere almost out of his wit he brayde, 
And to his goddes pitously he preide 
For socour, but it mighte not betide : 
For drede of this him thoughte that he deide, 
And ran into a gardin him to hide. 

And in this gardin found he cherles tweye 14461 
That saten by a fire gret and red, 
And to thise cherles two he gan to preye 
To slen him, and to girden of his hed, 
That to his body, whan that he were ded, 
Were no despit ydon for his defame. 
Himself he slow, he coud no better rede, 
Of which fortune lough and hadde a game. 1446s 


Was never capitaine under a king, 
That regnes mo put in subjectioun, 
Ne strenger was in feld of alle thing 
As in his time, ne greter of renoun, 
Ne more pompous in high presumptioun, 
Than Holoferne, which that fortune a kist 
So likerously, and lad him up and doun, 
Til that his hed was of, or that he wist. 14476 


Not only that this world had him in awe 14477 
For lesing of richesse and libertee ; 
But he made every man reneie his lawe. 
Nabuchodonosor was God, sayd he; 
Non other God ne shulde honoured be. 
Ageins his heste ther dare no wight trespace, 
Save in Bethulia, a strong citee, 
Wher Eliachim a preest was of that place. 14484 

But take kepe of the deth of Holoferne : 
Amid his host he dronken lay a night 
Within his tente, large as is a berne ; 
And yet for all his pompe and all his might, 
Judith, a woman, as he lay upright 
Sleping, his hed of smote, and fro his tente 
Ful prively she stale from every wight, 
And with his hed unto hire toun she wente. 14492 


What nedeth it of king Antiochus 
To tell his high and real majestee, 
His gret pride, and his werkes venimous ? 
For swiche another was ther non as he ; 
Redeth what that he was in Machabe, 
And redeth the proud wordes that he seid, 14493 

VOL in, KT 


And why he fell from his prosperitee, 14499 

And in an hill how wretchedly he deid. 

Fortune him had enhaunsed so in pride, 
That veraily he wend he might attaine 
Unto the sterres upon every side, 
And in a balaunce weyen eche mountaine, 
And all the floodes of the see restreine : 
And Goddes peple had he most in hate, 14506 
Hem wold he sleen in turment and in peine, 
Wening that God ne might his pride abate. 

And for that Nichanor and Timothee 
With Jewes were venquished mightily, 
Unto the Jewes swiche an hate had he, 
That he bad greithe his char ful hastily, 
And swore and sayde ful despitously, 14513 

Unto Jerusalem he wold eftsone 
To wreke his ire on it ful cruelly, 
But of his purpos was he let ful sone. 

God for his manace him so sore smote, 
With invisible wound, ay incurable, 
That in his guttes carfe it so and bote, 
Til thatte his peines weren importable ; 14520 


And certainly the wreche was resonable, 14521 

For many a mannes guttes did he peine ; 
But from his purpos, cursed and damnable, 
For all his smerte, he n'olde him not restreine : 

But bade anon apparailen his host. 
And sodenly, or he was of it ware, 
God daunted all his pride, and all his bost; 
For he so sore fell out of his chare, 14523 

That it his limmes and his skinne to-tare, 
So that he neither mighte go ne ride ; 
But in a chaiere men about him bare, 
Alle forbrused bothe bak and side. 

The wreche of God him smote so cruelly, 
That thurgh his body wicked wormes crept, 
And therwithal he stanke so horribly, 14535 

That non of all his meinie that him kept, 
Whether so that he woke or elles slept, 
Ne mighte not of him the stinke endure. 
In this mischiefe he wailed and eke wept, 
And knew God, Lord of every creature. 

To all his host, and to himself also 
Ful wlatsom was the stinke of his careine ; 
No man ne mighte him beren to ne fro. 14543 


And in this stinke, and this horrible peine, 14544 
He starf ful wretchedly in a mountaine. 
Thus hath this robbour, and this homicide, 
That many a man made to wepe and pleine, 
Swiche guerdon, as belongeth unto pride. 


The storie of Alexandre is so commune, 
That every wight, that hath discretioun, 14550 

Hath herd somwhat or all of his fortune. 
This wide world, as in conclusioun, 
He wan by strength, or for his high renoun 
They weren glad for pees unto him sende. 
The pride of man and bost he layd adoun, 
Wher so he came, unto the worldes ende. 

Comparison might never yet be maked 14557 

Betwix him and another conquerour, 
For al this world for drede of him hath quaked ; 
He was of knighthode and of fredome flour ; 
Fortune him maked the heir of hire honour. 
Save wine and women, nothing might asswage 
His high entente in armes and labour, 
So was he ful of leonin corage. 

What pris were it to him, though I you told 14565 


Of Darius, and an hundred thousand mo, 14566 

Of kinges, princes, dukes, erles bold, 

Which he conquered, and brought hem into wo ? 

I say, as fer as man may ride or go 

The world was his, what shuld 1 more devise 

For though 1 wrote or told you ever mo 

Of his knighthode, it mighte not suffice. 

Twelf yere he regned, as saith Machabe; 14573 
Philippus sone of Macedoine he was, 
That first was king in Grece the contree. 
O worthy gentil Alexandre, alas 
That ever shuld thee fallen swiche a cas ! 
Enpoisoned of thyn owen folke thou were ; 
Thy sis fortune hath turned into an as, 
And yet for thee ne wept she never a tere, 

Who shal me yeven teres to complaine 
The deth of gentillesse, and of fraunchise, 
That all this world welded in his demaine, 
And yet him thought it mighte not suffice ? 
So ful was his corage of high emprise. 
Alas ! who shal me helpen to endite 
False fortune, and poison to despise ? 
The whiche two of all this wo I wite. i45sa 


Julius Cesar. 

By wisdome, manhode, and by gret labour, 
From humblehede to real majestee 
Up rose he Julius the conquerour, 
That wan all the Occident, by lond and see, 
By strengthe of hond, or elles by tretee, 
And unto Rome made hem tributarie ; 
And sith of Rome the emperour was he, 
Til that fortune wexe his adversarie. 145.96 

O mighty Cesar, that in Thessalie 
Ageins Pompeius father thin in lawe, 
That of the orient had all the chivalrie, 
As fer as that the day beginneth dawe, 
Thou thurgh thy knighthodehast hem take and slawe, 
Save fewe folk, that with Pompeius fledde, 
Thurgh which thou put all the orient in awe, 14603 
Thanke fortune, that so wel thee spedde. 

But now a litel while I wol bewaile 
This Pompeius, this noble governour 
Of Rome, which that fled at this bataille. 
I say, on of his men, a false traitour, 
His hed of smote, to winnen him favour 
Of Julius, and him the hed he brought : 
Alas, Pompeie, of the orient conquerour, 
That fortune unto swiche a fin thee brought ! 14612 


To Rome again repaireth Julius ueis 

With his triumphe laureat ful hie, 
But on a time Brutus and Cassius, 
That ever had of his high estat envie, 
Ful prively had made corispiracie 
Ageins this Julius in sotil wise : 
And cast the place, in which he shulde die 
With bodekins, as I shal you devise. 14620 

This Julius to the capitolie wente 
Upon a day, as he was wont to gon, 
And in the capitolie anon him hente 
This false Brutus, and his other foon, 
And stiked him with bodekins anon 
With many a wound, and thus they let him lie : 
But never gront he at no stroke but on, 
Or elles at two, but if his storie lie. 1452 a 

So manly was this Julius of herte, 
And so wel loved estatly honestee, 
That though his dedly woundes sore smerte, 
His mantel over his hippes caste he, 
For no man shulde seen his privetee : 
And as he lay of dying in a trance, 
And wiste veraily that ded was he, 
Of honestee yet had he remembrance. H636 


Lucan, to thee this storie I recommende, 14637 
And to Sueton, and Valerie also, 
That of this storie writen word and ende : 
How that to thise gret conqueroures two 
Fortune was first a frend, and sith a fo. 
No man ne trust upon hire favour long, 
But have hire in await for evermo ; 
Witnesse on all thise conqueroures strong. 14644 


The riche Cresus, whilom king of Lide, 
Of whiche Cresus, Cirus sore him dradde, 
Yet was he caught amiddes all his pride, 
And to be brent men to the fire him ladde ; 
But swiche a rain doun from the welken shadde, 
That slow the fire, and made to him escape : 
But to beware no grace yet he hadde, i46'5i 

Til fortune on the galwes made him gape. 

Whan he escaped was, he can not stint 
For to beginne a newe werre again : 
He wened wel, for that fortune him sent 
Swiche hap, that he escaped thurgh the rain, 
That of his foos he mighte not be slain ; 
And eke a sweven upon a night he mette, 
Of which he was so proud, and eke so fain, 
That in vengeance he all his herte sette. 1466*0 


Upon a tree he was, as that him thought, ueci 
Ther Jupiter him weshe, both bak and side ; 
And Phebus eke a faire towail him brought 
To drie him with, and therfore wex his pride. 
And to his doughter that stood him beside, 
Which that he knew in high science habound, 
He bad hire tell him what it signified, 
And she his dreme began right thus expound. 14668 

. The tree (quod she) the galwes is to mene, 
And Jupiter betokeneth snow and rain, 
And Phebus with his towail clere and clene, 
Tho ben the sonnes stremes, soth to sain : 
Thou shalt anhanged be, fader, certain ; 
Rain shal thee wash, and sonne shal thee drie. 
Thus warned him ful plat and eke fid plain 
His doughter, which that called was Phanie. 14676 

Anhanged was Cresus the proude king, 
His real trone might him not availle : 
Tragedie is non other maner thing, 
Ne can in singing crien ne bewaile, 
But for that fortune all day wol assaille 
With unware stroke the regnes that ben proude : 
For whan men trusten hire, than wol she faille, 
And cover hire bright face with a cloude. 14684 


Peter of Spaine. 

O noble, a worthy Petro, glorie of Spaine, 14685 
Whom fortune held so high in majestee, 
Wei oughten men thy pitous deth complaine. 
Out of thy lond thy brother made thee flee, 
And after at a sege by sotiltee 
Thou were betraied, and lad unto his tent, 
Wher as he with his owen hond slow thee, 146.91 
Succeeding in thy regne and in thy rent. 

The feld of snow, with th'egle of blak therin, 
Caught with the limerod, coloured as the glede, 
He brewed this cursednesse, and all this sinne ; 
The wicked neste was werker of this dede ; 
Not Charles Oliver, that toke ay hede 
Of trouthe and honour, but of Armorike 14698 

Genilon Oliver, corrupt for mede, 
Broughte this worthy king in swiche a brike. 

Petro, King ofCypre. 

O worthy Petro king of Cypre also, 
That Alexandrie wan by high maistrie, 
Ful many an hethen wroughtest thou ful wo, 
Of which thin owen lieges had envie : 
And for no thing but for thy chivalrie. 14705 


They in thy bed han slain thee by the morwe; 14706 
Thus can fortune hire whele governe and gie, 
And out of joye bringen men to sorwe. 

Barnabo Discount. 

Of Milane grete Barnabo Viscount, 
God of delit, and scourge of Lumbardie, 
Why shuld I not thin infortune account, 
Sith in estat thou clomben were so high ? 14712 
Thy brothers sone, that was thy double allie, 
For he thy nevew was, and sone in lawe, 
Within his prison made he thee to die, 
But why, ne how, n'ot I that thou were slawe. 

Hugelin of Pise. 

Of the erl Hugelin of Pise the langour 
Ther may no tonge tellen for pitee. 147 is 

But litel out of Pise stant a tour, 
In whiche tour in prison yput was he, 
And with him ben his litel children three, 
The eldest scarsely five yere was of age : 
Alas ! fortune, it was gret crueltee 
Swiche briddes for to put in swiche a cage. 

Dampned was he to die in that prison, 
For Roger, which that bishop was of Pise^ 14726 


Had on him made a false suggestion, 14727 

Thurgh which the peple gan upon him rise, 

And put him in prison, in swiche a wise, 

As ye han herd ; and mete and drinke he had 

So smale, that wel unnethe it may sufEse, 

And therwithal it was ful poure and bad. 

And on a day befell, that in that houre, 
Whan that his mete wont was to be brought, 14734 
The gailer shette the dores of the toure ; 
He hered it wel, but he spake right nought. 
And in his herte anon ther fell a thought, 
That they for hunger wolden do him dien ; 
Alas ! quod he, alas that I was wrought ! 
Ther with the teres fellen fro his eyen. 

His yonge sone, that three yere was of age, 14741 
Unto him said, fader, why do ye wepe ? 
Whan will the gailer bringen our potage ? 
Is ther no morsel bred that ye do kepe ? 
I am so hungry, that I may not slepe. 
Now wolde God that I might slepen ever, 
Than shuld not hunger in my wombe crepe ; 
Ther n'is no thing, sauf bred, that me were lever. 

Thus day by day this childe began to crie, 14749 


Til in his fadres barme adoun it lay, 14750 

And saide, farewel, fader, I mote die ; 

And kist his fader, and dide the same day. 

And whan the woful fader did it sey, 

For wo his armes two he gan to bite, 

And saide, alas \ fortune, and wala wa ! 

Thy false whele my wo all may I wite. 

His children wenden, that for hunger it was 14757 
That he his armes gnowe, and not for wo, 
And sayden : fader, do not so, alas ! 
But rather ete the flesh upon us two. 
Our flesh thou yaf us, take our flesh us fro, 
And ete ynough : right thus they to him seide, 
And after that, within a day or two, 
They laide hem in his lappe adoun, and deide. 

Himself dispeired eke for hunger starf. 14765 
Thus ended is this mighty Erl of Pise : 
From high estat fortune away him carf. 
Of this tragedie it ought ynough suffice ; 
Who so wol here it in a longer wise, 
Redeth the grete poete of Itaille, 
That highte Dante, for he can it devise 
Fro point to point, not o word wol he faille. 14772 



Ho ! quod the knight, good sire, no more of this : 
That ye han said, is right ynough ywis, 
And mochel more ; for litel hevinesse 
Is right ynough to mochel folk, I gesse. 
I say for me, it is a gret disese, 
Wher as men have ben in gret welth and ese, 14773 
To heren of hir soden fall, alas ! 
And the contrary is joye and s^ret solas, 
As whan a man hath ben in poure estat, 
And climbeth up, and wexeth fortunat, 
And ther abideth in prosperitee : 
Swiche thing is gladsom, as it thinketh me, 
And of swiche thing were goodly for to telle. 

Ye, quod our hoste, by Seint Poules belle, 14786 
Ye say right soth ; this monk hath clapped loude : 
He spake, how fortune covered with a cloude 
I wote not what, and als of a tragedie 
Right now ye herd : and parde no remedie 
It is for to bewailen, ne complaine 
That that is don, and als it is a paine, 
As ye han said, to here of hevinesse. 
Sire monk, no more of this, so God you blesse ; 
Your tale anoyeth all this compagnie ; 14795 


Swiche talking is not worth a boterflie, 1 47.96 

For therin is ther no disport ne game : 

Therfore, sire monk, dan Piers by your name, 

I pray you hertely, tell us somwhat elles, 

For sikerly, n'ere clinking of your belles, 

That on your bridel hange on every side, 

By heven king, that for us alle dide, 

I shuld er this have fallen doun for slepe, 

Although the slough had ben never so depe : 14804 

Than hadde your tale all ben tolde in vain. 

For certainly, as that thise clerkes sain, 

Wher as a man may have non audience, 

Nought helpeth it to tellen his sentence. 

And wel I wote the substance is in me, 

If any thing shal wel reported be. 

Sire, say somwhat of hunting, I you pray. 

Nay, quod this Monk, I have no lust to play : 14312 
Now let another telle as I have told. 

Than spake our hoste with rude speche and bold, 
And sayd unto the Nonnes Freest anon, 
Come nere, thou preest, come hither thou Sire John, 
Telle us swiche thing, as may our hertes glade. 
Be blithe, although thou ride upon a jade. 
What though thyn horse be bothe foule and lene, 
If he wol serve thee, recke thee not a bene : 
Loke that thyn herte be mery evermo. 14821 


Yes, hoste, quod he, so mote I ride or go, 14322 
But I be mery, ywis I wol be blamed. 
And right anon his tale he hath attamed ; 
And thus he said unto us everich on, 
This swete preest, this goodly man Sire John. 


A POURE widewe somdel stoupen in age, 14327 
Was whilom dwelling in a narwe cotage, 
Beside a grove, stonding in a dale. 
This widewe, which I tell you of my tale, 
Sin thilke day that she was last a wif, 
In patience led a ful simple lif. 
For litel was hire catel and hire rente : 
By husbondry of swiche as God hire sente, 
She found hireself, and eke hire doughtren two. 
Three large sowes had she, and no mo : 14836 

Three kine, and eke a sheep that highte Malle. 
Ful sooty was hire boure, and eke hire halle, 
In which she ete many a slender mele. 
Of poinant sauce ne knew she never a dele. 
No deintee morsel passed thurgh hire throte ; 
Hire diete was accordant to hire cote. 
Repletion ne made hire never sike ; 
Attempre diete was all hire physike, 14844 


And exercise, and hertes suffisance. 14345 

The goute let hire nothing for to dance, 
Ne apoplexie shente not hire hed. 
No win ne dranke she, neyther white ne red : 
Hire bord was served most with white and black, 
Milk and broun bred in which she fond no lack, 
Seinde bacon, and somtime an ey or twey ; 
For she was as it were a maner dey. 

A yerd she had, enclosed all about HSSS 

With stickes, and a drie diche without, 
In which she had a cok highte Chaunteclere, 
In all the land of crowing n'as his pere. 
His vois was merier than the mery orgon, 
On masse daies that in the chirches gon. 
Wei sikerer was his crowing in his loge, 
Than is a clok, or any abbey orloge. 
By nature he knew eche ascentioun usei 

Of the equinoctial in thilke toun ; 
For whan degrees fiftene were ascended, 
Than crew he, that it might not ben amended. 

His combe was redder than the fin corall, 
Enbattelled, as it were a castel wall. 
His bill was black, and as the jet it shone ; 
Like asure were his legges and his tone ; 
His nailes whiter than the lily flour, 
-And like the burned gold was his colour. i48?o 



This gentil cok had in his governance . 14371 
Seven hennes, for to don all his plesance. 
Which were his susters and his paramoures, 
And wonder like to him, as of coloures. 
Of which the fairest hewed in the throte, 
Was cleped faire damoselle Pertelote. 
Curteis she was, discrete, and debonaire, 
And compenable, and bare hireself so faire, 
Sithen the day that she was sevennight old, 1487.9 
That trewelich she hath the herte in hold 
Of Chaunteclere, loken in every lith : 
He loved hire so, that wel was him therwith. 
But swiche a joye it was to here hem sing, 
Whan that the brighte sonne gan to spring, 
In swete accord ; my lefe is fare in lond. 

For thilke time, as I have understond, 
Bestes and briddes couden speke and sing. 14887 

And so befell, that in a dawening, 
As Chaunteclere among his wives alle 
Sate on his perche, that was in the halle, 
And next him sate his faire Pertelote, 
This Chaunteclere gan gronen in his throte, 
As man that in his dreme is dretched sore. 
And whan that Pertelote thus herd him rore, 
She was agast, and saide, herte dere, 
What aileth you to grone in this manere ? 14896 


Ye ben a veray sleper, fy for shame. 14897 

And he answered and sayde thus ; madame, 
I pray you, that ye take it not agrefe : 
By God me mette I was in swiche mischefe 
Right now, that yet min herte is sore afright. 
Now God (quod he) my sweven recche aright, 
And kepe my body out of foule prisoun. 

Me mette, how that I romed up and doun 
Within our yerde, wher as I saw a beste, 14905 

Was like an hound, and wold han made areste 
Upon my body, and han had me ded. 
His colour was betwix yelwe and red ; 
And tipped was his tail, and both his eres 
With black, unlike the remenant of his heres. 
His snout was smal, with glowing eyen twey : 
Yet for his loke almost for fere I dey : 
This caused me my groning douteles. 14913 

Away, quod she, fy on you herteles. 
Alas ! quod she, for by that God above 
Now han ye lost myn herte and all my love ; 
I cannot love a coward by my faith. 
For certes, what so any w r oman saith, 
We all desiren, if it mighte be, 
To have an husbond, hardy, wise and free, 
And secree, and non niggard ne no fool, 
Ne him that is agast of every tool, 14922 


Ne non avantour by that God above. 14923 

How dorsten ye for shame to say to your love, 
That any thing might maken you aferde ? 
Han ye no mannes herte, and han a berde ? 
Alas ! and con ye ben agast of swevenis ? 
Nothing but vanitee, god wote, in sweven is. 

Swevenes engendren of repletions, 
And oft of fume, and of complexions, 
Whan humours ben to habundant in a wight. 14931 
Certes this dreme, which ye han met to-night, 
Cometh of the grete superfluitee 
Of youre rede colera parde, 
Which causeth folk to dreden in hir dremes 
Of arwes, and of fire with rede lemes, 
Of rede bestes, that they wol hem bite, 
Of conteke, and of waspes gret and lite ; 
Right as the humour of melancolie 14939 

Causeth ful many a man in slepe to crie, 
For fere of bolles, and of beres blake, 
Or elles that blake devils wol hem take. 

Of other humours coud I telle also, 
That werken many a man in slepe moch wo ; 
But I wol passe, as lightly as I can. 

Lo Caton, which that was so wise a man, 
Said he not thus ? Ne do no force of dremes. 14947 

Now, Sire, quod she, whan we flee fro the bemes, 


For Goddes love, as take som laxatif : 14949 

Up peril of my soule, and of my lif, 

I conseil you the best, I wol not lie, 

That both of coler, and of melancolie 

Ye purge you ; and for ye shul not tarie, 

Though in this toun be non apotecarie, 

I shal myself two herbes techen you, 

That shal be for your hele, and for your prow ; 

And in our yerde, the herbes shall I finde, 14957 

The which han of hir propretee by kinde 

To purgen you benethe, and eke above. 

Sire, forgete not this for Goddes love ; 

Ye ben ful colerike of complexion ; 

Ware that the sonne in his ascention 

Ne finde you not replete of humours hote : 

And if it do, I dare wel lay a grote, 

That ye shul han a fever tertiane, 14965 

Or elles an ague, that may be your bane. 

A day or two ye shul han digestives 

Of wormes, or ye take your laxatives, 

Of laureole, centaurie, and fumetere, 

Or elles of ellebor, that groweth there, 

Of catapuce, or of gaitre beries, 

Or herbe ive growing in our yerd, that mery is : 

Picke hem right as they grow, and ete hem in. 

Beth mery, husbond, for your fader kin, 14974 


Dredeth no dreme, I can say you no more. 14975 

Madame, quod he, grand mercy of your lore. 
But natheles, as touching dan Caton, 
That hath of wisdome swiche a gret renoun, 
Though that he bade no dremes for to drede, 
By God, men moun in olde bookes rede, 
Of many a man, more of auctoritee 
Than ever Caton was, so mote I the, 
That all the revers' sayn of his sentence, 14933 

And han wel founden by experience, 
That dremes ben significations 
As wel of joye, as tribulations, 
That folk enduren in this lif present. 
Ther nedeth make of this non argument ; 
The veray preve sheweth it indede. 

On of the gretest auctours that men rede, 
Saith thus ; that whilom twey felawes wente 149.91 
On pilgrimage in a ful good entente ; 
And happed so> they came into a toun, 
Wher ther was swiche a congregatioun 
Of peple, and eke so streit of herbergage, 
That they ne founde as moche as a cotage, 
In which they bothe might ylogged be : 
Wherfore they musten of necessitee, 
As for that night, departen compagnie ; 
And eche of hem goth to his hostelrie, loooa 



And toke his logging as it wolde falle. 15001 

That on of hem was logged in a stalle, 
Fer in a yerd, with oxen of the plough ; 
That other man was logged wel ynough, 
As was his aventure, or his fortune, 
That us governeth all, as in commune. 

And so befell, that, long or it were day, 
This man met in his bed, ther as he lay, 
How that his felaw gan upon him calle, 15009 

And said, alas ! for in an oxes stalle 
This night shal I be mordred, ther I lie. 
Now helpe me, dere brother, or I die; 
In alle haste come to me, he saide. 

This man out of his slepe for fere abraide ; 
But whan that he was waked of his slepe, 
He turned him, and toke of this no kepe ; 
Him thought his dreme was but a vanitee. 15017 
Thus twies in his sleping dremed he. 

And at the thridde time yet his felaw 
Came, as him thought, and said, I now am slaw : 
Behold my blody woundes, depe and wide. 
Arise up erly, in the morwe tide, 
And at the West gate of the toun (quod he) 
A carte ful of donge ther shalt thou see, 
In which my body is hid prively. 
Do thilke carte arresten boldely. 15026 


My gold caused my mordre, soth to sain. 15027 
And told him every point how he was slain 
With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe. 
And trusteth wel, his dreme he found ful trewe. 
For on the morwe, as sone as it was day, 
To his felawes inne he toke his way : 
And whan that he came to this oxes stalle, 
After his felaw he began to calle. 

The hosteler answered him anon, 15035 

And saide, Sire, your felaw is agon, 
As sone as day he went out of the toun. 

This man gan fallen in suspecioun 
Remembring on his dremes that he mette, 
And forth he goth, no lenger wold he lette, 
Unto the West gate of the toun, and fond 
A dong carte, as it went for to dong lond, 
That was arraied in the same wise 15043 

As ye han herde the dede man devise : 
And with an hardy herte he gan to crie, 
Vengeance and justice of this felonie ; 
My felaw mordred is this same night, 
And in this carte he lith, gaping upright. 
I crie out on the ministres, quod he. 
That shulden kepe and reulen this citee : 
Harow ! alas ! here lith my felaw slain. 

What shuld I more unto this tale sain ? 15052 


The peple out stert, and cast the cart to ground, 
And in the middel of the dong they found 15054 
The dede man, that mordred was all newe. 

O blisful God, that art so good and trewe, 
Lo, how that thou bewreyest mordre alway. 
Mordre wol out, that see we day by day. 
Mordre is so wlatsom and abhominable 
To God, that is so just and resonable, 
That he ne wol not suffre it hylled be : isosi 

Though it abide a yere, or two, or three, 
Mordre wol out, this is my conclusioun. 

And right anon, the ministres of the toun 
Han hent the carter, and so sore him pined, 
And eke the hosteler so sore engined, 
That they beknew hir wickednesse anon, 
And were anhanged by the necke bon. 

Here moun ye see that dremes ben to drede. 15069 
And certes in the same book I rede, 
Right in the nexte chapitre after this, 
(I gabbe not, so have I joye and blis) 
Two men that wold han passed over the see 
For certain cause in to a fer contree, 
If that the wind ne hadde ben contrarie, 
That made hem in a citee for to tarie, 
That stood ful mery upon an haven side. 
But on a day, agein the even tide, 15078 


The wind gan change, and blew right as hem lest 
Jolif and glad they wenten to hir rest, ISOBO 

And casten hem ful erly for to saile ; 
But to that o man fell a gret mervaile. 

That on of hem in sleping as he lay, 
He mette a wonder dreme, again the day : 
Him thought a man stood by his beddes side, 
And him commanded, that he shuld abide, 
And said him thus ; if thou to-morwe wende, isosy 
Thou shalt be dreint ; my tale is at an ende. 

He woke, and told his felaw what he met, 
And praied him his viage for to let, 
As for that day, he prayd him for to abide. 

His felaw that lay by his beddes side, 
Gan for to laugh, and scorned him ful faste. 
No dreme, quod he, may so my herte agaste, 
That I wol leten for to do my thinges. 15095 

I sette not a straw by thy dreminges, 
For swevens ben but vanitees and japes. 
Men dreme al day of oules and of apes, 
And eke of many a mase therwithal ; 
Men dreme of thing that never was, ne shal. 
But sith I see that thou wolt here abide, 
And thus forslouthen wilfully thy tide, 
God wot it reweth me, and have good day. 
And thus he took his leve, and went his way. 15104 


' But or that he had half his cours ysailed, 
N'ot I not why, ne what meschance it ailed, 
But casuelly the shippes bottom rente, 
And ship and man under the water wente 
In sight of other shippes ther beside, 
That with him sailed at the same tide. 

And therfore, faire Pertelote so dere, 
By swiche ensamples olde maist thou lere, 
That no man shulde be to reccheles 151 13 

Of dremes, for 1 say thee douteles, 
That many a dreme ful sore is for to drede. 

Lo, in the lif of seint Kenelme, I rede, 
That was Kenulphus sone, the noble king 
Of Mercenrike, how Kenelm mette a thing. 
A litel or he were mordred on a day, 
His mordre in his avision he say. 
His norice him expouned every del 15121 

His sweven, and bade him for to keep him wel 
Fro treson ; but he n'as but seven yere old, 
And therfore litel tale hath he told 
Of any dreme, so holy was his herte. 
By God I hadde lever than my sherte, 
That ye had red his legend, as have I. 

Dame Pertelote, I say you trewely, 
Macrobius, that writ the avision 
In Affrike of the worthy Scipion, isiso 


Affirmeth dremes, and sayth that they ben \5iai 
Warning of thinges, that men after seen. 

And forthermore, I pray you loketh wel 
In the olde Testament, of Daniel, 
If he held dremes any vanitee. 

Rede eke of Joseph, and ther shuln ye see 
Wher dremes ben somtime (I say not alle) 
Warning of thinges that shuln after falle. 

Loke of Egipt the king, dan Pharao, 15139 

His baker and his boteler also, 
Wheder they ne felten non effect in dremes. 
Who so wol seken actes of sondry remes, 
May rede of dremes many a wonder thing. 

Lo Cresus, which that was of Lydie king, 
Mette he not that he sat upon a tree, 
Which signified he shuld anhanged be ? 

Lo hire Andromacha, Hectores wif, 15147 

That day that Hector shulde lese his lif, 
She dremed on the same night beforne, 
How that the lif of Hector shuld be lorne, 
If thilke day he went into bataille : 
She warned him, but it might not availle ; 
He went forth for to tighten natheles, 
And was yslain anon of Achilles. 

But thilke tale is al to long to telle, 
And eke it is nigh day, I may not dwelle. isiss 


Shortly I say, as for conclusion, 15157 

That I shal han of this avision 

Adversitee : and I say forthermore, 

That I ne tell of laxatives no store, 

Fer they ben venimous, I wot it wel : 

I hem deffie, I love hem never a del. 

But let us speke of mirthe, and stinte all this ; 
Madame Pertelote, so have I blis, 
Of o thing God hath sent me large grace : isies 
For whan I see the beautee of your face, 
Ye ben so scarlet red about your eyen, 
It maketh all my drede for to. dien, 
For, al so siker as In principle, 
Mulier est hominis confusio. 
(Madame, the sentence of this Latine is, 
Woman is mannes joye and mannes blis.) 
For whan I fele a-night your softe side, 15173 

Al be it that I may not on you ride, 
For that our perche is made so narwe, alas ! 
I am so ful of joye and of solas, 
That I deffie bothe sweven and dreme. 

And with that word he flew doun fro the beme 
For it was day, and eke his hennes alle ; 
And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle, 
For he had found a corn, lay in the yerd. 
Real he was, he was no more aferd : 


He fethered Pertelote twenty time, 
And trade hire eke as oft, er it was prime. 
He loketh as it were a grim leoun ; 
And on his toos he rometh up and doun, 
Him deigned not to set his feet to ground : 
He chukketh, whan he hath a corn yfound, 
And to him rennen than his wives alle. 

Thus real, as a prince is in his halle, 
Leve I this Chaunteclere in his pasture; 15191 

And after wol I tell his aventure. 

Whan that the month in which the world began, 
That highte March, whan God first maked man, 
Was complete, and ypassed were also, 
Sithen March ended, thritty dayes and two, 
Befell that Chaunteclere in all his pride, 
His seven wives walking him beside, 
Cast up his eyen to the brighte sonne, 15199 

That in the signe of Taurus hadde yronne 
Twenty degrees and on, and somwhat more : 
He knew by kind, and by non other lore, 
That it was prime, and crew with blisful steven. 
The sonne, he said, is clomben up on heven 
Twenty degrees and on, and more ywis. 
Madame Pertelote, my worldes blis, 
Herkeneth thise blisful briddes how they sing, 
And see the freshe floures how they spring ; 15208 


Ful is min herte of revel, and solas. 15209 

But sodenly him fell a sorweful cas ; 
For ever the latter ende of joye is wo : 
God wote that worldly joye is sone ago : 
Arid if a rethor coude faire endite, 
He in a chronicle might it saufly write, 
As for a soveraine notabilitee. 

Now every wise man let him herken me : 
This story is al so trewe, I undertake, 15217 

As is the book of Launcelot du lake, 
That women holde in ful gret reverence. 
Now wol I turne agen to my sentence. 

A col fox, ful of sleigh iniquitee, 
That in the grove had wonned yeres three, 
By high imagination forecast, 
The same night thurghout the hegges brast 
Into the yerd, ther Chaunteclere the faire 15225 
Was wont, and eke his wives, to repaire : 
And in a bedde of wortes stille he lay, 
Till it was passed undern of the day, 
Waiting his time on Chaunteclere to falle : 
As gladly don thise homicides alle, 
That in await liggen to mordre men. 

O false morderour, rucking in thy den ! 
O newe Scariot, newe Genelon ! 
O false dissimulour, o Greek Sinon, 15234 


That broughtest Troye al utterly to sorwe ! 15235 

Chaunteclere, accursed be the morwe, 
That them into thy yerd flew fro the bemes : 
Thou were ful wel ywarned by thy dremes, 
That thilke day was perilous to thee. 

But what that God forewote most nedes be, 

After the opinion of certain clerkes. 

Witnesse on him, that any parfit clerk is, 

That in scole is gret altercation 10243 

In this matere, and gret disputison, 

And hath ben of an hundred thousand men. 

But I ne cannot boult it to the bren, 

As can the holy doctour Augustin, 

Or Boece, or the bishop Bradwardin, 

Whether that Goddes worthy foreweting 

Streineth me nedely for to don a thing, 

(Nedely clepe I simple necessitee) 15251 

Or elles if free chois be granted me 

To do that same thing, or do it nought, 

Though God forewot it, or that it was wrought; 

Or if his weting streineth never a del, 

But by necessitee condicionel. 

1 wol not han to don of swiche matere ; 
My tale is of a cok, as ye may here, 
That took his conseil of his wif with sorwe 

To walken in the yerd upon the morwe, i526'o 


That he had met the dreme, as I you told. 

Womennes conseiles ben ful often cold ; 

Womannes conseil brought us first to wo. 

And made Adam fro paradis to go, 

Ther as he was ful mery, and wel at ese. 

But for I n'ot, to whom I might displese, 

If I conseil of women wolde blame, 

Passe over, for I said it in my game. 

Rede auctours, wher they trete of swiche matere, 

And what they sayn of women ye mown here. 15270 

Thise ben the Cokkes wordes, and not mine ; 

I can non harme of no woman devine. 

Faire in the sond, to bath hire merily, 
Lith Pertelote, and all hire susters by, 
Agein the sonne, and Chaunteclere so free 
Sang merier than the Mermaid in the see, 
For Phisiologus sayth sikerly, 
How that they singen wel and merily. 15278 

And so befell that as he cast his eye 
Among the wortes on a boterflie, 
He was ware of this fox that lay ful low. 
Nothing ne list him thanne for to crow, 
But cried anon cok, cok, and up he sterte, 
As man that was affraied in his herte. 
For naturelly a beest desireth flee 
Fro his contrarie, if he may it see, 15286 



Though he never erst had seen it with his eye. isss? 

This Chaunteclere, whan he gan him espie, 
He wold han fled, but that the fox anon 
Said ; gentil sire, alas ! what wol ye don ? 
Be ye affraid of me that am your frend ? 
Now certes, I were werse than any fend, 
If I to you wold harme or vilanie. 
I n'am not come your conseil to espie. 
But trewely the cause of my coming 15295 

Was only for to herken how ye sing : 
For trewely ye han as mery a steven, 
As any angel hath, that is in heven; 
Therwith ye han of musike more feling, 
Than had Boece, or any that can sing. 
My lord your fader (God his soule blesse) 
And eke your moder of hire gentillesse 
Han in myn hous yben, to my gret ese : 15303 

And certes, sire, ful fain wold I you plese. 
But for men speke of singing, I wol sey, 
So mote I brouken wel min eyen twey, 
Save you, ne herd I never man so sing, 
As did your fader in the morwening. 
Certes it was of herte all that he song. 
And for to make his vois the more strong, 
He wold so peine him, that with both his eyen 
He muste winke, so loud he wolde crien, 15312 



And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal, 15313 

And stretchen forth his necke long and smal. 

And eke he was of swiche discretion, 

That ther n'as no man in no region, 

That him in song or wisdom mighte passe. 

1 have wel red in dan Burnel the asse 

Among his vers, how that ther was a cok, 

That for a preestes sone yave him a knok 

Upon his leg, while he was yonge and nice, 1 53<2 1 

He made him for to lese his benefice. 

But certain ther is no comparison 

Betwix the wisdom and discretion 

Of youre fader, and his subtilitee. 

Now singeth, sire, for Seinte Charitee, 

Let see, can ye your fader contrefete ? 

This Chaunteclere his winges gan to bete, 
As man that coud not his treson espie, 15329 

So was he ravished with his flaterie. 

Alas ! ye lordes, many a false flatour 
Is in your court, and many a losengeour, 
That pleseth you wel more, by my faith, 
Than he that sothfastnesse unto you saith. 
Redeth Ecclesiast of flaterie, 
Beth ware, ye lordes, of hire trecherie. 

This Chaunteclere stood high upon his toos 
Stretching his necke, and held his eyen cloos, 15333 


And gan to crowen loude for the nones : 1 533.9 

And dan Russel the fox stert up at ones, 
And by the gargat hente Chaunteclere, 
And on his back toward the wood him bere. 
For yet ne was ther no man that him sued. 

O destinee, that maist not ben eschued ! 
Alas, that Chaunteclere flew fro the bemes ! 
Alas, his wif ne raughte not of dremes ! 
And on a Friday fell all this meschance. 15347 

O Venus, that art goddesse of plesance, 
Sin that thy servant was this Chaunteclere, 
And in thy service did all his powere, 
More for delit, than world to multiplie, 
Why wolt thou suffre him on thy day to die ? 

O Gaufride, dere maister soverain, 
That, whan thy worthy king Richard was slain 
With shot, complainedest his deth so sore, 15355 
Why ne had I now thy science and thy lore, 
The Friday for to chiden, as did ye ? 
(For on a Friday sothly slain was he) 
Than wold I shew you how that I coud plaine, 
For Chauntecleres drede, and for his paine. 

Certes swiche cry, ne lamentation 
N'as never of ladies made, whan Ilion 
Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite swerd 
Whan he had hent king Priam by the berd, 15364 


And slain him, (as saith us Eneidos) 15365 

As maden all the hennes in the cloos, 

Whan they had seen of Chaunteclere the sight. 

But soverainly dame Pertelote shright, 

Ful louder than did Hasdruballes wif, 

Whan that hire husbond hadde ylost his lif, 

And that the Romaines hadden brent Cartage, 

She was so ful of turment and of rage, 

That wilfully into the fire she sterte, 15373 

And brent hire selven, with a stedfast herte. 

O woful hennes, right so criden ye r 
As, whan that Nero brente the citee 
Of Rome, cried the senatoures wives, 
For that hir husbonds losten alle hir lives ; 
Withouten gilt this Nero hath hem slain. 

Now wol I turne unto my tale again. 
The sely wide we, and hire dough tren two, isssi 
Herden thise hennes crie and maken wo, 
And out at the dores sterten they anon, 
And saw the fox toward the wode is gon, 
And bare upon his back the cok away : 
They crieden, out ! harow and wala wa ! 
A ha the fox ! and after him they ran, 
And eke with staves, many another man ; 
Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot, and Gerlond, 
And Malkin, with hire distaf in hire hond ; 15390 


Ran cow and calf ; and eke the veray hogges 1 5391 

So fered were for berking of the dogges, 

And shouting of the men and women eke, 

They ronnen so, hem thought hir hertes breke. 

They yelleden as fendes don in helle : 

The dokes crieden as men wold hem quelle : 

The gees for fere flewen over the trees, 

Out of the hive came the swarme of bees, 

So hidous was the noise, a benedicite ! 15399 

Certes he Jakke Straw, and his meinie, 

Ne maden never shoutes half so shrille, 

Whan that they wolden any Fleming kille, 

As thilke day was made upon the fox. 

Of bras they broughten beemes and of box, 

Of horn and bone, in which they blew and pouped, 

And therwithal they shriked and they houped ; 

It semed, as that the heven shulde falle. 15407 

Now, goode men, I pray you herkeneth alle ; 
Lo, how fortune turneth sodenly 
The hope and pride eke of hire enemy. 
This cok that lay upon the foxes bake, 
In all his drede, unto the fox he spake, 
And sayde ; sire, if that I were as ye ? 
Yet wolde I sayn, (as wisly God helpe me) 
Turneth agein, ye proude cherles alle ; 
A veray pestilence upon you falle. 15416 


Now am I come unto the wodes side, 15417 

Maugre your bed, the cok shal here abide ; 
I wol him ete in faith, and that anon. 

The fox answered, in faith it shal be don : 
And as he spake the word, al sodenly 
The cok brake from his mouth deliverly, 
And high upon a tree he flew anon. 

And whan the fox saw that the cok was gon, 
Alas ! quod he, o Chaunteclere, alas ! 15425 

I have (quod he) ydon to you trespas, 
In as moche as I maked you aferd, 
Whan I you hente, and brought out of your yerd ; 
But, sire, I did it in no wikke entente ; 
Come doun, and I shal tell you what I mente. 
I shal say sothe to you, God helpe me so. 

Nay than, quod he, I shrewe us bothe two. 
And first I shrewe myself, bothe blood and bones, 
If thou begile me oftener than ones. 15434 

Thou shalt no more thurgh thy flaterie 
Do me to sing and winken with myn eye. 
For he that winketh, whan he shulde see, 
Al wilfully, God let him never the, 

Nay, quod the fox, but God yeve him meschance, 
That is so indiscrete of governance, 
That jangleth, whan that he shuld hold his pees. 

Lo, which it is for to be reccheles 
And negligent, and trust on flaterie. 15443 


But ye that holden this tale a folie, 15444 

As of a fox, or of a cok, or hen, 
Taketh the moralitee therof, good men. 
For Seint Poule sayth, That all that writen is, 
To our doctrine it is ywriten ywis. 
Taketh the fruit, and let the chaf be stille. 
Now, goode God, if that it be thy wille, 
As sayth my Lord, so make us all good men; 
And bring us to thy highe blisse. Amen. 15452 

Sire Nonnes Freest, our hoste sayd anon, 
Yblessed be thy breche and every ston ; 
This was a mery tale of Chaunteclere. 
But by my trouthe, if thou were seculere, 
Thou woldest ben a tredefoule a right : 
For if thou have corage as thou hast might, 
Thee were nede of hennes, as I wene, 15459 

Ye mo than seven times seventene. 
Se, whiche braunes hath this gentil preest, 
So gret a necke, and swiche a large breest I 
He loketh as a sparhauk with his eyen ; 
Him nedeth not his colour for to dien 
With Brasil, ne with grain of Portingale. 

But, sire, faire falle you for your tale, 
And after that, he with ful mery chere 
Sayd to another, as ye shulen here. io4<?s 



THE ministre and the norice unto vices, 15469 
Which that men clepe in English idelnesse, 
That porter at the gate is of delices, 
To eschuen, and by hire contrary hire oppresse, 
That is to sain, by leful besinesse, 
Wei oughte we to don al our entente, 
Lest that the fend thurgh idelnesse us hente. 15475 

For he that with his thousand cordes slie 
Continuelly us waiteth to beclappe, 
Whan he may man in idelnesse espie, 
He can so lightly cacche him in his trappe, 
Til that a man be hent right by the lappe, 
He n'is not ware the fend hath him in hond : 
Wei ought us werche, and idelnesse withstond. 15432 

And though men dradden never for to die, 
Yet see men wel by reson douteles, 
That idelnesse is rote of slogardie, 
Of which ther never cometh no good encrees, 
And see that slouthe holdeth hem in a lees, 
Only to slepe, and for to ete and drinke, 
And to devouren all that other swinke. 15489 


And for to put us from swiche idelnesse, 15490 
That cause is of so gret confusion, 
I have here don my feithful besinesse 
After the Legende in translation 
Right of thy glorious lif and passion, 
Thou with thy gerlond, wrought of rose and lilie, 
Thee mene I, maid and martir Seinte Cecilie. 

And thou, that arte floure of virgines all, 15497 
Of whom that Bernard list so wel to write, 
To thee at my beginning first I call, 
Thou comfort of us wretches, do me endite 
Thy maidens deth, that wan thurgh hire merite 
The eternal lif, and over the fend victorie, 
As man may after reden in hire storie. 

Thou maide and mother, doughter of thy son, 15504 
Thou well of mercy, sinful soules cure, 
In whom that God of bountee chees to won ; 
Thou humble and high over every creature, 
Thou nobledest so fer forth our nature, 
That no desdaine the maker had of kinde 
His son in blood and flesh to clothe and winde. 

Within the cloystre blisful of thy sides, 
Toke mannes shape the eternal love and pees, 15512 


That of the trine compas Lord and gide is, 15513 
Whom erthe, and see, and heven out of relees 
Ay herien ; and thou, virgine wemmeles, 
Bare of thy body (and dweltest maiden pure) 
The creatour of every creature. 

Assembled is in thee magnificence 
With mercy, goodnesse, and with svviche pitee, 
That thou, that art the sonne of excellence, 15520 
Not only helpest hem that praien thee, 
But oftentime of thy benignitee, 
Ful freely, or that men thin helpe beseche, 
Thou goest beforne, and art hir lives leche. 

Now helpe, thou meke and blisful faire maide, 
Me flemed wretch, in this desert of galle ; 
Thinke on the woman Cananee, that saide 15527 
That whelpes eten som of the cronies alle 
That from hir Lordes table ben yfalle ; 
And though that I, unworthy sone of Eve, 
Be sinful, yet accepteth my beleve. 

And for that feith is ded withouten werkes, 
So for to werken yeve me wit and space, 
That I be quit from thennes that most derke is ; 
O thou, that art so faire and ful of grace, 15535 


Be thou min advocat in that high place, 15536* 

Ther as withouten ende is songe Osanne. 
Thou Cristes mother, doughter dere of Anne. 

And of thy light my soule in prison light, 
That troubled is by the contagion 
Of my body, and also by the wight 
Of erthly lust, and false affection : 
O haven of refute, o salvation 15543 

Of hem that ben in sorwe and in distresse, 
Now help, for to my werk I wol me dresse. 

Yet pray I you that reden that I write, 
Foryeve me, that I do no diligence 
This ilke storie subtilly to endite. 
For both have I the wordes and sentence 
Of him, that at the seintes reverence 15550 

The storie wrote, and folowed hire legende, 
And pray you that ye wol my werk amende. 

First wol I you the name of Seinte Cecilie 
Expoune, as men may in hire storie see : 
It is to sayn in English, Hevens lilie, 
For pure chastnesse of virginitee, 
Or for she whitnesse had of honestee, 15557 


And grene of conscience, and of good fame 15558 
The swote savour, Lilie was hire name. 

Or Cecilie is to sayn, the way to blinde, 
For she ensample was by good teching ; 
Or elles Cecilie, as I writen finde, 
Is joined by a maner conjoining 
Of heven and Lia, and here in figuring 
The heven is set for thought of holinesse, 15565 
And Lia, for hire lasting besinesse. 

Cecilie may eke be sayd in this manere, 
Wanting of blindnesse, for hire grete light 
Of sapience, and for hire thewes clere. 
Or elles lo, this maidens name bright 
Of heven and Leos cometh, for which by right 
Men might hire wel the heven of peple calle, 15572 
Ensample of good and wise werkes alle : 

For Leos peple in English is to say ; 
And right as men may in the heven see 
The sonne and mone, and sterres every way, 
Right so men gostly, in this maiden free 
Sawen of faith the magnanimitee, 
And eke the clerenesse hole of sapience, 
And sondry werkes, bright of excellence. issso 


And right so as thise Philosophres write, 
That heven is swift and round, and eke brenning, 
Right so was faire Cecilie the white 
*Ful swift and besy in every good werking, 
And round and hole in good persevering, 
And brenning ever in charitee ful bright : 
Now have I you declared what she hight. 

This maiden bright Cecile, as hire lif saith, issss 
Was come of Romaines and of noble kind, 
And from hire cradle fostred in the faith 
Of Crist, and bare his Gospel in hire mind : 
She never cesed, as I writen find, 
Of hire prayere, and God to love and drede, 
Beseching him to kepe hire maidenhede. 

And whan this maiden shuld until a man 15595 
Ywedded be, that was ful yonge of age, 
Which that ycleped was Valerian, 
And day was comen of hire marriage, 
She ful devout and humble in hire corage, 
Under hire robe of gold, that sat ful faire, 
Had next hire flesh yclad hire in an haire. 

And while that the organs maden melodic, 
To God alone thus in hire hert song she; iseoa 


O Lord, my soule and eke my body gie 1 5604 

Unwemmed, lest that I confounded be. 
And for his love that died upon the tree, 
Every second or thridde day she fast, 
Ay bidding in hire orisons ful fast. 

The night came, and to bedde must she gon 
With hire husbond, as it is the manere, 
And prively she said to him anon ; i56ii 

swete and wel beloved spouse dere, 
Ther is a conseil, and ye wol it here, 
Which that right fayn I wold unto you saie, 
So that ye swere, ye wol it not bewraie. 

Valerian gan fast unto hire swere, 
That for no cas, ne thing that mighte be, 
He shulde never to non bewraien here; iseis 

And than at erst thus to him saide she ; 

1 have an Angel which that loveth me, 
That with gret love, wher so I wake or slepe, 
Is redy ay my body for to kepe ; 

And if that he may felen out of drede, 
That ye me touch or love in vilanie, 
He right anon wol sleen you with the dede, 
And in your youthe thus ye shulden die. 15626 


And if that ye in clene love me gie, isca? 

He wol you love as me, for your clenenesse, 
And shew to you his joye and his brightnesse. 

This Valerian, corrected as God wold, 
Answerd again, if I shal trusten thee, 
Let me that angel seen, and him behold ; 
And if that it a veray angel be, 
Than wol I don as thou hast prayed me ; 15634 

And if thou love another man, forsothe 
Right with this swerd than wol I slee you bothe. 

Cecile answerd anon right in this wise ; 
If that you list, the angel shul ye see, 
So that ye trowe on Crist and you baptise ; 
Goth forth to Via Apia (quod she) 
That fro this toun ne stant but miles three, 15641 
And to the poure folkes that ther dwellen 
Say hem right thus, as that I shal you tellen. 

Tell hem, that I Cecile you to hem sent 
To she wen you the good Urban the old, 
For secree nedes, and for good entent ; 
And whan that ye Seint Urban han behold, 
Tell him the wordes whiche I to you told ; 
And whan that he hath purged you fro sinne, 
Than shal ye seen that angel er ye twinne. 


Valerian is to the place gon, 15651 

And right as he was taught by hire lerning, 
He fond this holy old Urban anon 
Among the seintes buriels louting : 
And he anon withouten tarying 
Did his message, and whan that he it tolde, 
Urban for jo ye his hondes gan upholde. 

The teres from his eyen let he falle; isess 

Almighty Lord, o Jesu Crist, quod he, 
Sower of chast conseil, hierde of us alle, 
The fruit of thilke seed of chastitee 
That thou hast sow in Cecile, take to thee : 
Lo, like a besy bee withouten gile 
Thee serveth ay thin owen thral Cecile. 

For thilke spouse, that she toke but newe 15665 
Ful like a fiers leon, she sendeth here 
As meke as ever was any lambe to ewe. 
And with that word anon ther gan apere 
An old man, clad in white clothes clere, 
That had a book with lettres of gold in hond, 
And gan beforne Valerian to stond. 

Valerian, as ded, fell doun for drede, 
Whan he him saw ; and he up hent him tho, 15673 



And on his book right thus he gan to rede ; 15674 
On Lord, on faith, on God withouten mo, 
On Cristendom, and fader of all also 
Aboven all, and over all every wher : 
Thise wordes all with gold ywriten were. 

Whan this was red, than said this olde man, 
Levest thou this thing or no? say ye or nay. 
I leve all this thing, quod Valerian, 
For sother thing than this, I dare wel say, 
Under the heven no wight thinken may. 
Tho vanished the olde man, he n'iste wher, 
And pope Urban him cristened right ther. 

Valerian goth home, and fint Cecilie 
Within his chambre with an angel stonde : 
This angel had of roses and of lilie 
Corones two, the which he bare in honde, 
And first to Cecile, as I understonde, 
lie yaf that on, and after gan he take 
That other to Valerian hire make. 

With body clene, and with unwemmed thought 
Kepeth ay wel thise corones two, quod he, 
From paradis to you I have hem brought, 
Ne never mo ne shul they roten be, 1569C 


Ne lese hir swete savour, trusteth me, 1 5697 

Ne never wight shal seen hem with his eye, 
But he be chaste, and hate vilanie. 

And thou, Valerian, for thou so sone 
Assentedest to good conseil, also 
Say what thee list, and thou shalt han thy bone. 
I have a brother, quod Valerian tho, 
That in this world I love no man so, 15704 

I pray you that my brother may have grace 
To know the trouth, as I do in this place. 

The angel sayd ; God liketh thy request, 
And bothe with the palme of martirdome 
Ye shullen come unto his blisful rest. 
And with that word, Tiburce his brother come. 
And whan that he the savour undernome, 15711 
Which that the roses and the lilies cast, 
Within his herte he gan to wonder fast, 

And said ; I wonder this time of the yere 
Whennes that swete savour cometh so 
Of roses and lilies, that I smelle here ; 
For though I had hem in min hondes two, 
The savour might in me no deper go : 
The swete smel, that in min herte I find, 
Hath changed me all in another kind. 15720 


Valerian saide; two corones ban we 15721 

Snow-white and rose-red, that shinen clere, 
Which that thin eyen han no might to see : 
And as thou smellest hem thurgh my praiere, 
So shalt thou seen hem, leve brother dere, 
If it so be thou wolt withouten slouthe 
Beleve aright, and know the veray trouthe. 

Tiburce answered ; saiest thou this to me 15728 
In sothnesse, or in dreme herken I this ? 
In dremes, quod Valerian, han we be 
Unto this time, brother min, y wis : 
But now at erst in trouthe our dwelling is. 
How wost thou this, quod Tiburce, in what wise ? 
Quod Valerian ; that shal I thee devise. 

The angel of God hath me the trouth ytaught, 
Which thou shalt seen, if that thou wilt reney 15436 
The idoles, and be clene, and elles naught. 
[ And of the miracle of thise corones twey 
Seint Ambrose in his preface list to sey ; 
Solempnely this noble doctour dere 
Commend eth it, and saith in this manere. 

The palme of martirdome for to receive, 
Seinte Cecilie, fulfilled of Goddes yeft, 15743 


The world and eke hire chambre gan she weive ; 15744 

Witnesse Tiburces and Ceciles shrift, 

To which God of his bountee wolde shift 

Corones two, of floures wel smelling, 

And made his angel hem the corones bring. 

The maid hath brought thise men to blisse above ; 
The world hath wist what it is worth certain 
Devotion of chastitee to love.] 15751 

Tho shewed him Cecile all open and plain, 
That all idoles n'is but a thing in vain, 
For they ben dombe, and therto they ben deve, 
And charged him his idoles for to leve. 

Who so that troweth not this, a best he is, 
Quod this Tiburce, if that I shal not lie. 
And she gan kisse his brest whan she herd this, 15758 
And was ful glad he coude trouth espie : 
This day I take thee for min allie, 
Saide this blisful faire maiden dere ; 
And after that she said as ye may here. 

Lo, right so as the love of Crist (quod she) 
Made me thy brothers wif, right in that wise 
Anon for mine allie here take I thee, 
Sithen that thou wolt thin idoles despise. 15766 


Goth with thy brother now and thee baptise, 15767 
And make thee clene, so that thou maist behold 
The angels face, of which thy brother told. 

Tiburce answered, and saide ; brother dere, 
First tell me whither T shal, and to what man. 
To whom quod he ; come forth with goode chere, 
I wol thee lede unto the pope Urban. 
To Urban? brother min Valerian, 15774 

Quod tho Tiburce, wilt thou me thider lede ? 
Me thinketh that it were a wonder dede. 

Ne menest thou not Urban (quod he tho) 
That is so often damned to be ded, 
And woneth in halkes alway to and fro, 
And dare not ones putten forth his hed ? 
Men shuld him brennen in a fire so red, 15781 

If he were found, or that men might him spie, 
And we also, to bere him compagnie. 

And while we seken thilke divinitee, 
That is yhid in heven prively, 
Algate ybrent in this world shuld we be. 
To whom Cecile answered boldely ; 
Men mighten dreden wel and skilfully 
This lif to lese, min owen dere brother, 
If this were living only and non other. 15790 


But ther is better lif in other place, 15791 

That never shal be lost, ne drede thee nought : 
Which Goddes sone us tolde thurgh his grace, 
That fadres sone which alle thinges wrought ; 
And all that wrought is with a skilful thought, 
The gost, that from the fader gan precede, 
Hath souled hem withouten any drede. 

By word and by miracle he Goddes sone, 15798 
Whan he was in this world, declared here, 
That ther is other lif ther men may wone. 
To whom answerd Tiburce; o suster dere, 
Ne saidest thou right now in this manere, 
Ther n'as but o God, lord in sothfastnesse, 
And now of three how mayst thou bere witnesse ? 

That shal I tell, quod she, or that I go. 15805 
Right as a man hath sapiences three, 
Memorie, engine, and intellect also, 
So in o being of divinitee 
Three persones mowen ther righte wel be. 
Tho gan she him ful besily to preche 
Of Cristes sonde, and of his peines teche, 

And many pointes of his passion ; 
How Goddos sone in this world was withhold 


To don mankinds pleine remission, 15814 

That was ybound in sinne and cares cold. 
All this thing she unto Tiburce told, 
And after this Tiburce in good entent, 
With Valerian to pope Urban he went, 

That thanked God, and with glad herte and light 
He cristened him, and made him in that place 
Parfite in his lerning and Goddes knight. 15821 
And after this Tiburce gat swiche grace, 
That every day he saw in time and space 
The angel of God, and every maner bone 
That he God axed, it was sped ful sone. 

It were ful hard by ordre for to sain 
How many wonders Jesus for hem wrought. 
But at the last, to tellen short and plain, 15828 

The sergeaunts of the toun of Rome hem sought, 
And hem before Almache the prefect brought, 
Which hem apposed, and knew all hire entent, 
And to the image of Jupiter hem sent. 

And said ; who so wol nought do sacrifice, 
Swap of his hed, this is my sentence here. 
Anon thise martyrs, that I you devise, 
On Maximus, that was an officere 


Of the prefectes, and his corniculere, 15337 

Hem hent, and whan he forth the seintes lad, 
Himself he wept for pitee that he had. 

Whan Maximus had herd the seintes lore, 
He gate him of the turmentoures leve, 
And lad hem to his hous withouten more ; 
And with hir preching, or that it were eve, 
They gonnen fro the turmentours to reve, 15844 
And fro Maxime, and fro his folk eche on 
The false faith, to trowe in God alone. 

Cecilie came, whan it was waxen night, 
With prestees, that hem cristened all yfere ; 
And afterward, whan day was waxen light, 
Cecilie hem said with a ful stedfast chere ; 
Now, Cristes owen knightes leve and dere, 
Caste all away the werkes of derkenesse, 
And armeth you in armes of brightnesse. 

Ye han forsoth ydon a gret bataille ; 
Your cours is don, your faith hath you conserved ; 
Goth to the croune of lif that may not faille ; 
The rightful juge, which that ye han served, 
Shal yeve it you, as ye han it deserved. 
And whan this thing was said, as I devise, 
Men ledde hem forth to don the sacrifice. issso 


But whan they Averen to the place ybrought, I 
To tellen shortly the conclusioun, 
They n'olde encense, ne sacrifice right nought, 
But on hir knees they setten hem adoun, 
With humble herte and sad devotioun, 
And losten bothe hir hedes in the place ; 
His soules wenten to the king of grace. 

This Maximus, that saw this thing betide, 
With pitous teres told it anon right, 
That he hir soules saw to heven glide 
With angels, ful of clerenesse and of light ; 
And with his word converted many a wight. 
For which Almachius did him to-bete 
With whip of led, til he his lif gan lete. 

Cecile him toke, arid buried him anon 15875 

By Tiburce and Valerian softely, 
Within hir burying place, under the ston. 
And after this Almachius hastily 
Bad his ministres fetchen openly 
Cecile, so that she might in his presence 
Don sacrifice, and Jupiter encense. 

But they converted at hire wise lore 
Wepten ful sore, and yaven ful credence 15883 


Unto hire word, and crieden more and more; 15884 
Crist, Goddes sone, withouten difference 
Is veray God, this is all our sentence, 
That hath so good a servant him to serve : 
Thus with o vois we trowen though we sterve. 

Almachius, that herd of this doing, 
Bad fetchen Cecile, that he might hire see : 
And alderfirst, lo, this was his axing ; 
What maner woman arte thou ? quod he. 
I am a gentilwoman borne, quod she. 
I axe thee, quod he, though it thee greve, 
Of thy religion and of thy beleve. 

Why than began your question folily, 
Quod she, that woldest two answers conclude 
In o demand ? ye axen lewedly. 15898 

Almache answerd to that similitude, 
Of whennes cometh thin answering so rude ? 
Of whennes ? (quod she, whan that she was freined) 
Of conscience, and of good faith unfeined. 

Almachius said ; ne takest thou non hede 
Of my power ? and she him answerd this ; 
Your might (quod she) ful litel is to drede ; 
For every mortal mannes power n'is 15906 


But like a bladder ful of wind ywis : 15.907 

For with a nedles point, whan it is blow, 
May all the bost of it be laid ful low. 

Ful wrongfully begonnest thou, (quod he) 

And yet in wrong is al thy perseverance 

Wost thou not how our mighty princes free 

Have, thus commanded and made ordinance, 

That every cristen wight shal han penance 15914 

But if that he his Cristendome withseye, 

And gon al quite, if he wol it reneye ? 

Your princes erren, as your nobley doth, 
Quod tho Cecile, and with a wood sentence 
Ye make us gilty, and it is not soth : 
For ye that knowen wel our innocence, 
For as moche as we don ay reverence 15,921 

To Crist, and for we bere a Cristen name, 
Ye put on us a crime and eke a blame. 

But we that knowen thilke name so 
For vertuous, we may it not withseye. 
Almache answered ; chese on of thise two, 
Do sacrifice, or Cristendom reneye, 
That thou mow now escapen by that wey. 
At which this holy blisful fayre maid 
Gan for to laughe, and to the juge said : 15930 


O juge confuse in thy nicetee, 15931 

Woltest thou that I reney innocence ? 
To maken me a wicked wight (quod she) 
Lo, he dissimuleth here in audience, 
He stareth and wodeth in his advertence. 
To whom Almachius said ; Unsely wretch, 
Ne wost thou not how far my might may stretch ? 

Han not our mighty princes to me yeven 15.938 
Ya bothe power and eke auctoritee 
To maken folk to dien or to liven ? 
Why spekest thou so proudly than to me ? 
I ne speke nought but stedfastly, quod she, 
Not proudely, for I say, as for my side, 
We haten dedly thilke vice of pride. 

And if thou drede not a soth for to here, 15945 
Than wol I shewe al openly by right, 
That thou hast made a ful gret lesing here. 
Thou saist, thy princes han thee yeven might 
Both for to slee and for to quiken a wight, 
Thou that ne maist but only lif bereve, 
Thou hast non other power ne no leve. 

But thou maist sayn, thy princes han thee maked 
Ministre of deth ; for if thou speke of mo, 15953 


Thou liest; for thy power is ful naked. 15954 

Do way thy boldnesse, said Almachius tho, 
And sacrifice to our goddes, er thou go. 
I recke not what wrong that thou me proffre, 
For I can suffre it as a philosophre. 

But thilke wronges may I not endure, 
That thou spekest of our goddes here, quod he. 
Cecile answerd ; o nice creature, 
Thou saidest no word sin thou spake to me, 
That I ne knew therwith thy nicetee, 
And that thou were in every maner wise 
A lewed officer, a vain justice. 

Ther lacketh nothing to thin utter eyen 
That thou n'art blind ; for thing that we seen alle 
That is a ston, that men may wel espien, 15968 

That ilke ston a god thou wolt it calle. 
I rede thee let thin hond upon it falle, 
And tast it wel, and ston thou shalt it find, 
Sin that thou seest not with thin eyen blind. 

It is a shame that the peple shal 
So scornen thee, and laugh at thy folie : 
For comunly men wot it wel over al, 
That mighty God is in his hevens hie ; 15976 


And thise images, wel maist thou espie. 15977 

To thee ne to hemself may not profite, 
For in effect they be not worth a mite. 

Thise and swiche other wordes saide she, 
And he wex wroth, and bade men shuld hire lede 
Home til hire house, and in hire hous (quod he) 
Brenne hire right in a bath, with flames rede. 
And as he bade, right so was don the dede; 15934 
For in a bathe they gonne hire faste shetten, 
And night and day gret fire they under betten. 

The longe night, and eke a day also, 
For all the fire, and eke the bathes hete, 
She sate al cold, and felt of it no wo, 
It made hire not a drope for to swete : 
But in that bath hire lif she muste lete. 15991 

For he Almache, with a ful wicke entent, 
To sleen hire in the bath his sonde sent. 

Three strokes in the nekke he smote hire tho 
The turmentour, but for no maner chance 
He mighte not smite all hire nekke atwo : 
And for ther was that time an ordinance 
That no man shulde don man swiche penance, 
The fourthe stroke to smiten, soft or sore, 
This turmentour ne dorste do no more ; isooo 


But half ded, with hire nekke ycorven ther 
He left hire lie, and on his way is went. 
The cristen folk, which that about hire were, 
With shetes han the blood ful faire yhent : 
Three dayes lived she in this turment, 
And never cesed hem the faith to teche, 
That she had fostred hem, she gan to preche. 

And hem she yaf hire mebles and hire thing, IGOOS 
And to the pope Urban betoke hem tho, 
And said ; I axed this of heven king, 
To have respit three dayes no mo, 
To recommend to you, or that I go, 
Thise soules lo, and that I might do werche 
Here of min hous perpetuellich a cherche. 

Seint Urban, with his dekenes prively 16015 

The body fette, and buried it by night 
Among his other seintes honestly : 
Hire hous the cherche of seinte Cecile hight; 
Seint Urban halowed it, as he wel might, 
In which unto this day in noble wise 
Men don to Crist and to his seinte servise. 16021 



WHAN that toldewas thelif ofseinte Cecile, 16022 
Er we had ridden fully five mile, 
At Boughton under blee us gan atake 
A man, that clothed was in clothes blake, 
And undernethe he wered a white surplis. 
His hakeney, which that was al pomelee gris, 16027 
So swatte, that it wonder was to see, 
It semed as he had priked miles three. 
The horse eke that his yeman rode upon, 
So swatte, that unnethes might he gon. 
About the peytrel stood the fome ful hie, 
He was of fome as flecked as a pie. 
A male tweifold on his croper lay, 
It semed that he caried litel array, 

Al light for sommer rode this worthy man. 
And in my herte wondren I began 
What that he was, til that I understode, 
How that his cloke was sowed to his hode ; 
For which whan I had long avised me, 
I denied him some chanon for to be. 
His hat heng at his back doun by a las, 
For he had ridden more than trot or pas, 
He had ay priked like as he were wode. 16044 



A clote lefe he had laid under his hode 16045 

For swete, and for to kepe his hed fro hete. 

But it was joye for to seen him swete ; 

His forehed dropped, as a stillatorie 

Were ful of plantaine or of paritorie. 

And whan that he was come, he gan to crie, 

God save (quod he) this joly compagnie. 

Fast have I priked (quod he) for your sake. 

Because that I wolde you atake, isosa 

To riden in this mery compagnie. 

His yeman was eke ful of curtesie, 
And saide ; Sires, now in the morwe tide 
Out of your hostelrie I saw you ride, 
And warned here my lord and soverain, 
Which that to riden with you is ful fain, 
For his disport ; he loveth daliance. 
Frend, for thy warning God yeve the good chance, 
Than said our hoste ; certain it wolde seme 16062 
Thy lord were wise, and so I may wel deme ; 
He is ful joconde also dare I leye : 
Can he ought tell a mery tale or tweie, 
With which he gladen may this compagnie ? 

Who, sire ? my lord ? Ye, sire, withouten lie, 
He can of mirth and eke of jolitee 
Not but ynough ; also, sire, trusteth me, 
And ye him knew al so wel as do I, 16070 


Ye wolden wondre how wel and craftily 

He coude werke, and that in sondry wise. 

He hath take on him many a gret emprise, 

Which were ful harde for any that is here 

To bring about, but they of him it lere. 

As homely as he rideth amonges you, 

If ye him knew, it wold be for your prow : 

Ye wolden not forgon his acquaintance 

For mochel good, I dare lay in balance 16079 

All that I have in my possession. 

He is a man of high discression, 

I warne you wel, he is a passing man. 

Wel, quod our hoste, I pray thee tell me than, 
Is he a clerk, or non ? tell what he is. 

Nay, he is igreter than a clerk ywis, 
Saide this yeman, and in wordes fewe, 
Hoste, of his craft somwhat I wol you shewe. 1608? 

I say, my tord can swiche a subtiltee, 
(But all his craft ye moun not wete of me, 
And somwhat help 1 yet to his werking) 
That all the ground on which we ben riding 
Til that we come to Canterbury toun, 
He coud al clene turnen up so doun, 
And pave it all of silver and of gold. 

And whan this yeman had this tale ytolde 
Unto our hoste, he said; benedicite, 


This thing is wonder mervaillous to me, 10097 

Sin that thy lord is of so high prudence, 

Because of which men shulde him reverence, 

That of his worship rekketh he so lite ; 

His overest sloppe it is not worth a mite 

As in effect to him, so mote I go ; 

It is all baudy and to-tore also. 

Why is thy lord so sluttish I thee preye, 

And is of power better cloth to beye, isios 

If that his dede acorded with thy speche ? 

Telle me that, and that I thee beseche. 

Why ? quod this yeman, wherto axe ye me ? 
God helpe me so, for he shal never the : 
(But I wol not avowen that I say, 
And therfore kepe it secree I you pray) 
He is to wise in faith, as I beleve. 
Thing that is overdon, it wol not preve IGI is 

Aright, as clerkes sain., it is a vice ; 
Wherfore in that I hold him lewed and nice. 
For whan a man hath overgret a wit, 
Ful oft him happeth to misusen it : 
So doth my lord, and that me greveth sore. 
God it amende, I can say now no more. 

Therof no force, good yeman, quod our host, 
Sin of the conning of thy lord thou wost, 
Telle how he doth, I pjay thee hertily, 16122 


Sin that he is so crafty and so sly. 16123 

Wher dwellen ye, if it to tellen be ? 

In the subarbes of a toun, quod he, 
Lurking in hernes and in lanes blinde, 
Wheras thise robbours and thise theves by kinde 
Holden hir privee fereful residence, 
As they that dare not she wen hir presence, 
So faren we, if I shal say the sothe. 

Yet, quod our hoste, let me talken to the ; 16131 
Why art thou so discoloured of thy face ? 

Peter, quod he, God yeve it harde grace, 
I am so used the hote fire to blow, 
That it hath changed my colour I trow ; 
I n'am not wont in no mirrour to prie, 
But swinke sore, and lerne to multiplie. 
We blundren ever, and poren in the fire, 
And for all that we faille of our desire, 16139 

For ever we lacken our conclusion. 
To mochel folk we don illusion, 
And borwe gold, be it a pound to two, 
Or ten or twelve, or many sommes mo, 
And make hem wenen at the leste wey, 
That of a pound we connen maken twey, 
Yet is it false ; and ay we han good hope 
It for to don, and after it we grope : 
But that science is so fer us beforne, 


We mowen not, although we had it sworne, 16149 
It overtake, it slit away so fast ; 
It wol us maken beggers at the last. 

While this yeman was thus in his talking, 
This Chanon drow him nere, and herd all thing 
Which this yeman spake, for suspecion 
Of mennes speche ever had this Chanon : 
For Caton sayth, that he that gilty is, 
Demeth all thing be spoken of him ywis : 16157 
That was the cause ; he gan so nigh him drawe 
To his yeman, to herken all his sawe, 
And thus he saide unto his yeman tho ; 
Hold thou thy pees, and speke no wordes mo : 
For if thou do, thou shalt it dere abie. 
Thou sclaundrest in this compagnie, 
And eke discoverest that thou shuldest hide. 

Ye, quod our hoste, tell on, what so betide; 16165 

Of all his thretening recke not a mite. 
In faith, quod he, no more I do but lite. 

And whan this Chanon saw it wold not be, 

But his yeman wold tell his privetee, 

He fled away for veray sorwe and shame. 
A , quod the yeman, here shal rise a game : 

All that I can anon I wol you telle, 

Sin he is gon ; the foule fend him quelle ; 

For never hereafter wol I with him mete 16174 


For peny ne for pound, I you behete. I6'i75 

He that me broughte first unto that game, 

Er that he die, sorwe have he and shame. 

For it is ernest to me by faith ; 

That fele I wel, what that any man saith ; 

And yet for all my smert, and all my grief, 

For all my sorwe, labour and meschief, 

I coude never leve it in no wise. 

Now wolde God my wit mighte suffice 

To tellen all that longeth to that art ; 

But natheles, yet wol I tellen part ; 

Sin that my lord is gon, I wol not spare, 

Swiche thing as that I know, I wol declare. 


WITH this Chanon I dwelt have seven yere, 
And of his science am I never the nere : 
All that I had, I have ylost therby, 
And God wot, so han many mo than I. 
Ther I was wont to be right fresh and gay 
Of clothing, and of other good array, 
Now may I were an hose upon min hed ; 
And wrier my colour was both fresh and red, 
Now is it wan, and of a leden hewe ; 
(Who so it useth, so shal he it re we) 1 6 1.97 


And of my swinke yet blered is min eye ; 16198 

Lo which avantage is to multiplie ! 

That sliding science hath me made so bare, 

That I have no good, wher that ever I fare ; 

And yet I am endetted so therby 

Of gold, that I have borwed trewely, 

That while I live, I shal it quiten never; 

Let every man be ware by me for ever. 

What maner man that casteth him therto, 16206 

If he continue, I hold his thrift ydo ; 

So help me God, therby shal he nat winne, 

But empte his purse, and make his wittes thinne. 

And whan he, thurgh his madnesse and folie, 

Hath lost his owen good thurgh jupartie, 

Than he exciteth other folk therto, 

To lese hir good as he himself hath do. 

For unto shrewes joye it is and ese 16214 

To have hir felawes in peine and disese. 

Thus was I ones lerned of a clerk ; 

Of that no charge ; I wol speke of our werk. 

Whan we be ther as we shuln exercise 
Our elvish craft, we semen wonder wise, 
Our termes ben so clergial and queinte. 
I blow the fire til that myn herte feinte. 
What shuld I tellen eche proportion 
Of thinges, whiche that we werchen upon ; 16223 


As on five or six unces, may wel be, 16224 

Of silver, or som other quantitee ? 

And besie me to tellen you the names, 

As orpiment, brent bones, yren squames, 

That into poudre grounden ben ful smal ? 

And in an erthen pot how put is al, 

And salt yput in, and also pepere, 

Beforn thise poudres that I speke of here, 

And wel ycovered with a lampe of glas? 162.32 

And of moche other thing which that ther was ? 

And of the pottes and glasses engluting, 

That of the aire might passen out no thing ? 

And of the esy fire, and smert also, 

Which that was made ? and of the care and wo, 

That we had in our materes subliming, 

And in amalgaming, and calcening 

Of quiksilver, ycleped mercuric crude? ib24o 

For all our sleightes we can not conclude. 

Our orpiment, and sublimed mercurie, 

Our grounden litarge eke on the porphurie, 

Of eche of thise of unces a certain 

Not helpeth us, our labour is in vain. 

Ne, neyther our spirites ascentioun, 

Ne our materes that lien al fix adoun, 

Mown in our werking nothing us availle ; 

For lost is all our labour and travaille, 16249 


And all the cost a twenty devil way 1 62-50 

Is lost also, which we upon it lay. 

Ther is also ful many another thing, 
That is unto our craft apperteining, 
Though I by ordre hem nat rehersen can, 
Because that I am a lewed man, 
Yet wol I telle hem, as they come to minde, 
Though I ne cannot set hem in hir kinde, 
As bole armoniak, verdegrese, boras; 16258 

And sondry vessels made of erthe and glas, 
Our urinales, and our descensories, 
Viols, croslettes, and sublimatories, 
Cueurbites, and alembikes eke, 
And other swiche ger, dere ynough a leke, 
What nedeth it for to reherse hem alle ^ 
Wateres rubifying, and bolles galle, 
Arsenik, sal armoniak, and brimston? i6'266 % 

And herbes coude I tell eke many on, 
As egremoine, valerian, and lunarie, 
And other swiche, if that me list to tarie ; 
Our lampes brenning bothe night and day, 
To bring about our craft if that we may ; 
Our fourneis eke of calcination, 
And of wateres albification, 
Unslekked lime, chalk, and gleire of an ey, 
Poudres divers, ashes, dong, pisse, and cley, ifi275 


Sered pokettes, sal peter, and vitriole ; 16276 

And divers fires made of wode and cole; 

Sal tartre, alcaly, and salt preparat, 

And combust materes, and coagulat : 

Cley made with hors and mannes here, and oile 

Of tartre, alum, glas, berme, wort, and argoile, 

Rosalgar, and other materes enbibing ; 

And eke of our materes encorporing, 

And of our silver citrination, 16284 

Our cementing, and fermentation, 

Our ingottes, testes, and many thinges mo. 

I wol you tell as was me taught also 
The foure spirites, and the bodies sevene 
By ordre, as oft I herd my lord hem nevene. 
The firste spirit quiksilver cleped is ; 
The second orpiment ; the thridde ywis 
Sal armoniak, and the fourth brimston. 16*292 

The bodies sevene eke, lo hem here anon. 
Sol gold is, and Luna silver we threpe ; 
Mars iren, Mercurie quiksilver we clepe : 
Saturnus led, and Jupiter is tin, 
And Venus coper, by my fader kin. 

This cursed craft who so wol exercise, 
He shal no good have, that him may suffice, 
For all the good he spendeth theraboute 
He lesen shal, therof have I no doute. i630i 


Who so that listeth uttren his folie, 

Let him come forth and lernen multiplie : 

And every man that hath ought in his cofre, 

Let him appere, and wex a philosophre, 

Ascaunce that craft is so light to lere. 

Nay, nay, God wot, al be he monk or frere, 

Freest or chanon, or any other wight, 

Though he sit at his book both day and night 

In lerning of this elvish nice lore, i63io 

All is in vain, and parde mochel more 

To lerne a lewed man this subtiltee ; 

Fie, speke not therof, for it wol not be. 

And conne he letterure, or conne he non, 

As in effect, he shal finde it all on ; 

For bothe two by my salvation 

Concluden in multiplication 

Ylike wel, whan they have all ydo ; 16318 

This is to sain, they faillen bothe two. 

Yet forgate I to maken rehersaile 
Of waters corosif, and of limaile, 
And of bodies mollification, 
And also of hir induration, 
Giles, ablusions, metal fusible, 
To tellen all, wold passen any bible, 
That o wher is ; wherfore as for the best 
Of all thise names now wol I me rest; 


For as I trow, 1 have you told ynow it>328 

To reise a fend, al loke he never so row. 
A, nay, let be ; the philosophres ston, 
Elixer cleped, we sken fast eche on, 
For had we him, than were we siker ynow; 
But unto God of heven I make avow, 
For all our craft, whan we han all ydo, 
And all our sleight, he wol not come us to. 
He hath ymade us spenden mochel good, ISSSG 
For sorwe of which almost we waxen wood, 
But that good hope crepeth in our herte, 
Supposing ever, though we sore smerte, 
To ben releved of him afterward. 
Swiche supposing and hope is sharpe and hard. 
I warne you wel it is to seken ever. 
That future temps hath made men dissever, 
In trust therof, from all that ever they had, 1 6*344 
Yet of that art they conne not waxen sad, 
For unto hem it is a bitter swete ; 
So semeth it; for ne had they but a shete 
Which that they might wrappen hem in a-night, 
And a bratt to walken in by day-light, 
They wold hem sell, and spend it on this craft ; 
They conne not stinten, til no thing be laft. 
And evermore, wher ever that they gon, 
Men may hem kennen by smell of brimston ; 16*353 


For all the world they stinken as a gote; 16354 

Hir savour is so rammish and so hote, 
That though a man a mile from hem be, 
The savour wol enfect him, trusteth me. 

Lo, thus by smelling and thred-bare array, 
If that men list, this folk they knowen may. 
And if a man wol axe hem prively, 
Why they be clothed so unthriftily, 
They right anon wol rounen in his ere, 16362 

And saien, if that they espied were, 
Men wolde hem sle, because of hir science : 
Lo, thus thise folk betraien innocence. 

Passe over this, I go my tale unto. 
Er that the pot be on the fire ydo 
Of metals with a certain quantitee, 
My lord hem tempereth, and no man but he ; 
(Now he is gon, I dare say boldely) 16870 

For as men sain, he can don craftily : 
Algate I wote wel he hath swiche a name, 
And yet ful oft he renneth in a blame, 
And wete ye how? ful oft it falleth so, 
The pot to-breketh, and farewel all is go. 
Thise metales ben of so gret violence, 
Our walles may not make hem insistence, 
But if they weren wrought of lime and ston ; 
They percen so, that thurgh the wall they gon ; 16379 


And som of hem sinke doun into the ground, iflsso 

(Thus have we lost by times many a pound) 

And som are scatered all the flore aboute ; 

Som lepen into the roof withouten doute. 

Though that the fend not in our sight him shewe, 

I trow that he be with us, thilke shrewe, 

In helle, wher that he is lord and sire, 

Ne is ther no more wo, rancour, ne ire. 

Whan that our pot is broke, as I have sayde, ISSSB 

Every man chit, and holt him evil apayde. 

Som sayd it was long on the fire-making ; 

Som sayd nay, it was long on the blowing ; 

(Than was I ferd, for that was min office) 

Straw, quod the thridde, ye ben lewed and nice, 

It was not tempred as it ought to be. 

Nay, quod the fourthe, stint and herken me ; 

Because our fire was not made of beche, 16.396 

That is the cause, and other non, so the iche. 

I can not tell wheron it was along, 

But wel I wot gret strif is us among. 

What ? quod my lord, ther n'is no more to don, , 

Of thise perils I wol beware eftsone. 

I am right siker, that the pot was erased. 

Be as be may, be ye no thing amased. 

As usage is, let swepe the flore as swithe ; 

Plucke up your hertes and be glad and blithe. 16405 


The mullok on an hepe ysweped was, 16406 

And on the flore yeast a canevas, 
And all this mullok in a sive ythrowe, 
And sifted, and ypicked many a throwe. 

Parde, quod on, somwhat of our metall 
Yet is ther here, though that we have not all. 
And though this thing mishapped hath as now, 
Another time it may be wel ynow. 
We mosten put out good in aventure : 16414 

A marchant parde may not ay endure, 
Trusteth me wel, in his prosperitee : 
Somtime his good is drenched in the see, 
And somtime cometh it sauf unto the lond. 

Pees, quod iny lord, the next time I wol fond 
To bring our craft all in another plite, 
And but 1 do, sires, let me have the wite : 
Ther was defaute in somwhat, wel I wote. 16422 

Another sayd, the fire was over hote. 
But be it hote or cold, I dare say this, 
That we concluden ever more amis : 
We faille alway of that which we wold have, 
And in our madnesse evermore we rave. 
And whan we be together everich on, 
Every man semeth a Salomon. 
But all thing, which that shineth as the gold, 
Ne is no gold, as I have herd it told ; 16431 


Ne every apple that is faire at eye, 16432 

Ne is not good, what so men clap or crie. 

Right so, lo, fareth it amonges us. 

He that semeth the wisest by Jesus 

Is most fool, whan it cometh to the prefe ; 

And he that semeth trewest, is a thefe. 

That shal ye know, or that I from you wende, 

By that I of my tale have made an ende. 

Ther was a chanon of religioun 16440 

Amonges us, wold enfect all a toun, 
Though it as gret were as was Ninive, 
Rome, Alisaundre, Troie, or other three. 
His sleightes and his infinite falsenesse 
Ther coude no man writen, as I gesse, 
Though that he mighte live a thousand yere ; 
In all this world of falsenesse n'is his pere. 
For in his termes he wol him so winde, 16448 

And speke his wordes in so slie a kinde, 
Whan he comunen shal with any wight, 
That he wol make him doten anon right, 
But it a fend be, as himselven is. 
Ful many a man hath he begiled er this, 
And wol, if that he may live any while : 
And yet men gon and riden many a mile 
Him for to seke, and have his acquaintance, 
Not knowing of his false governance. 16457 



And if you lust to yeve me audience, 16458 

I wol it tellen here in your presence. 
But, worshipful Chanons religious, 
Ne demeth not that I sclander your hous, 
Although that my tale of a Chanon be. 
Of every order som shrew is parde : 
And God forbede that all a compagnie 
Shuld rewe a singuler mannes folie. 
To sclander you is no thing min entent, 16466 

But to correcten that is mis I ment. 
This tale was not only told for you, 
But eke for other mo : ye wote wel how 
That among Cristes aposteles twelve 
Ther was no traitour but Judas himselve : 
Than why shuld al the remenant have blame, 
-That giltles were? by you I say the same. 
Save only this, if ye wol herken me, 16474 

If any Judas in your covent be, 
Remeveth him betimes, I you rede, 
If shame or los may causen any drede. 
And be no thing displesed I you pray, 
But in this cas herkeneth what I say. 

In London was a preest, an annuellere, 
That therin dwelled hadde many a yere, 
Which was so plesant and so servisable 16482 


Unto the wif, ther as he was at table, 16483 

That she wold suffer him no thing to pay 
For borde ne clothing, went he never so gay ; 
And spending silver had he right ynow : 
Therof no force ; I wol proceed as now, 
And tellen forth my tale of the Chanon, 
That broughte this preest to confusion. 

This false Chanon came upon a day 
Unto the preestes chambre, ther he lay, 10491 

Beseching him to lene him a certain 
Of gold, and he wold quite it him again, 
Lene me a marke, quod he, but dayes three, 
And at my day I wol it quiten thee. 
And if it so be, that thou finde me false, 
Another day hang me up by the halse. 

This preest him toke a marke, and that as swith, 
And this Chanon him thanked often sith, ib'49.9 
And toke his leve, and wente forth his wey : 
And at the thridde day brought his money ; 
And to the preest he toke his gold again, 
Wherof this preest was wonder glad and fain. 

Certes, quod he, nothing anoieth me 
To lene a man a noble, or two, or three, 
Or what thing were in my possession, 
Whan he so trewe is of condition, 
That in no wise he breken wol his day : 


To swiche a man I can never say nay. 16509 

What ? quod this Chanon, shuld I be untrewe ? 
Nay, that were thing fallen al of the newe. 
Trouth is a thing that I wol ever kepe 
Unto the day in which that I shal crepe 
Into my grave, and elles God forbede ; 
Beleveth this as siker as your crede. 
God thanke I, and in good time be it sayde, 
That ther n'as never man yet evil apayde 16-517 

For gold ne silver that he to me lent, 
Ne never falshede in min herte I ment: 

And, sire, (quod he) now of my privetee, 
Sin ye so goodlich have ben unto me, 
And kithed to me so gret gentillesse. 
Somewhat, to quiten with your kindenesse, 
I wol you shewe, and if you lust to lere 
I wol you techen pleinly the manere, 16525 

How I can werken in philosophic. 
Taketh good heed, ye shuln wel sen at eye, 
That I wol do a maistrie or I go. 

Ye ? quod the preest, ye, sire, and wol ye so ? 
Mary therof I pray you hertily. 

At your commandement, sire, trewely, 
Quod the Chanon, and elles God forbede. 
Lo, how this thefe coude his service bede. 

Ful soth it is that swiche profered service 16534 


Stinketh, as witnessen thise olde wise ; 

And that ful sone I wol it verifie 

In this Chanon, rote of all trecherie, 

That evermore delight hath and gladnesse 

(Swiche fendly thoughtes in his herte empresse) 

How Cristes peple he may to meschiei' bring. 

God kepe us from his false dissimuling. 

Nought wiste this preest with whom that he delt, 

Ne of his harme coming nothing he felt. 16543 

O sely preest, o sely innocent, 

With covetise anon thou shalt be blent ; 

O graceles, ful blind is thy conceite, 

For nothing art thou ware of the disceite, 

Which that this fox yshapen hath to thee ; 

His wily wrenches thou ne mayst not flee. 

Wherfore to go to the conclusion 16551 

That refer reth to thy confusion, 

Unhappy man, anon 1 wol me hie 

To tellen thin unwit and thy folie, 

And eke the falsenesse of that other wretch, 

As ferforth as that my conning wol stretch. 

This Chanon was my lord, ye wolden wene ; 
Sire hoste, in faith, and by the heven quene, 
It was another Chanon, and not he. 
That can an hundred part more subtiltee. 
He hath betraied folkes many a time ; 16560 


Of his falsenesse it dulletli me to rime. i656i 

Ever whan that I speke of his falshede 

For shame of him my chekes waxen rede ; 

Algates they beginnen for to glowe, 

For rednesse have I non, right wel I knowe, 

In my visage, for fumes diverse 

Of metals, which ye have herd me reherse, 

Consumed han and wasted my rednesse, 

Now take hede of this Chanons cursednesse. 1656 V .9 

Sire, quod the Chanon, let your yeman gon 
For quiksilver, that we it had anon ; 
And let him bringen unces two or three ; 
And whan he cometh, as faste shul ye see 
A wonder thing, which ye saw never er this. 

Sire, quod the preest, it shal be don ywis. 
He bad his servant fetchen him this thing, 
And he al redy was at his bidding, 16577 

And went him forth, and came anon again 
With this quiksilver, shortly for to sain, 
And toke thise unces three to the Chanoun ; 
And he hem laide wel and faire adoun, 
And bad the servant coles for to bring, 
That he anon might go to his werking. 

The coles right anon weren yfet, 
And this Chanon toke out a crosselet 
Of his bosome. and shewed it to the preest. issse 


This instrument, quod he, which that thou seest, 

Take in thyn hond, and put thyself therin 16588 

Of this quiksilver an unce, and here begin 

In the name of Crist to wex a philosophre. 

Ther be ful fewe, which that I wolde profre 

To shewen hem thus muche of my science : 

For here shul ye see by experience, 

That this quiksilver I wol mortifie, 

Right in your sight anon withouten lie, 16595 

And make it as good silver and as fine, 

As ther is any in your purse or mine, 

Or elles wher ; and make it malliablif ; 

And elles holdeth me false and unable 

Amonges folk for ever to appere. 

I have a pouder here that cost me dere, 
Shal make all good, for it is cause of all 
My conning, which that I you shewen shall. 16603 
Voideth your man, and let him be therout ; 
And shet the dore, while we ben about 
Our privetee, that no man us espie, 
While that we werke in this philosophic 

All, as he bade, fulfilled was in dede. 
This ilke servant anon right out yede, 
And his maister shette the dore anon, 
And to hir labour spedily they gon. 

This preest at this cursed Chanons bidding, 16612 


Upon the fire anon he set this thing, 16613 

And blew the fire, and besied him ful fast. 

And this Chanon into the crosselet cast 

A pouder, n'ot I never wherof it was 

Ymade, other of chalk, other of glas, 

Or somwhat elles, was not worth a flie, 

To blinden with this preest; and bade him hie 

The coles for to couchen all above 

The crosselet; for in tokening I thee love 16621 

(Quod this Chanon) thine owen hondes two 

Shal werken all thing which that here is do. 

Grand mercy; quod the preest, and was ful glad, 
And couched the coles as the Chanon bad. 
And while he besy was, this fendly wretch, 
This false Chanon (the foule fend him fetch) 
Out of his bosom toke a bechen cole, 
In which ful subtilly was made an hole, 16629 

And therin put was of silver limaile 
An unce, and stopped was withouten faile 
The hole with wax, to kepe the limaile in. 

And understandeth, that this false gin 
Was not made ther, but it was made before ; 
And other thinges I shal tell you more 
Hereafter ward, which that he with him brought ; 
Er he came ther, him to begile he thought, 
And so he did, or that they went atwin : 16638 


Til he had torned him, coud he not blin. 16639 

It dulleth me, whan that I of him speke ; 
On his falshede fain wold I me awreke, 
If I wist how, but he is here and ther, 
He is so variaunt, he abit no wher. 

But taketh hede, sires, now for Goddes love. 
He toke his cole, of which I spake above, 
And in his hond he bare it prively, 
And whiles the preest couched besily 16647 

The coles, as I tolde you er this, 
This Chanon sayde ; frend, ye don amis ; 
This is not couched as it ought to be, 
But sone I shal amenden it, quod he. 
Now let me meddle therwith but a while, 
For of you have I pitee by Seint Gile. 
Ye ben right hot, I see wel how ye swete ; 
Have here a cloth and wipe away the wete. 16655 

And whiles that the preest wiped his face, 
This Chanon toke his cole, with sory grace, 
And laied it above on the midward 
Of the crosselet, and blew wel afterward, 
Til that the coles gonnen fast to bren. 

Now yeve us drinke, quod this Chanon then, 
As swithe all shal be wel, I undertake. 
Sitte we doun, and let us mery make. 
And whanne that this Chanones bechen cole 16664 


Was brent, all the limaile out of the hole 16665 

Into the crosselet anon fell adoun ; 

And so it muste nedes by resoun, 

Sin it above so even couched was ; 

But therof wist the preest nothing, alas ! 

He denied all the coles ylike good, 

For of the sleight he nothing understood. 

And whan this Alkymistre saw his time, 
Riseth up, sire preest, quod he, and stondeth by me ; 
And for I wote wel ingot have ye non, 16674 

Goth, walketh forth, and bringeth a chalk ston ; 
For I wol make it of the same shap, 
That is an ingot, if I may have hap. 
Bring eke with you a bolle or elles a panne 
Ful of water, and ye shul wel see thanne 
How that our besinesse shal thrive and preve. 
And yet, for ye shul have no misbeleve i66'8i 

Ne wrong conceit of me in your absence, 
I ne wol not ben out of your presence, 
But go with you, and come with you again. 

The chambre dore, shortly for to sain, 
They opened and shet, and went hir wey, 
And forth with hem they caried the key, 
And camen again withouten any delay. 
What shuld I tarien all the longe day ? 
He toke the chalk, and shope it in the wise 16690 


Of an ingot, as I shal you devise; 16691 

I say, he toke out of his owen sieve 

A teine of silver (yvel mote he cheve) 

Which that ne was but a just unce of weight. 

And taketh heed now of his cursed sleight ; 

He shop his ingot, in length and in brede 

Of thilke teine, withouten any drede, 

So slily, that the preest it not espide ; 

And in his sieve again he gan it hide ; 16699 

And from the fire he toke up his matere, 

And in the ingot it put with mery chere : 

And in the water-vessel he it cast, 

Whan that him list, and bad the preest as fast, 

Loke what ther is ; put in thin hond and grope ; 

Thou shalt ther finden silver as I hope. 

What, divel of helle ! shuld it elles be ? 

Shaving of silver, silver is parde. 16707 

He put his hond in, and toke up a teine 
Of silver fine, and glad in every veine 
Was this preest, whan he saw that it was so. 
Goddes blessing, and his mothers also, 
And alle Halwes, have ye, sire Chanon, 
Sayde this preest, and I hir malison, 
But, and ye vouchesauf to techen me 
This noble craft and this subtilitee, 
I wol be your in all that ever I may. 16716 


Quod the Chanon, yet wol I make assay 16717 
The second time, that ye mow taken hede, 
And ben expert of this, and in your nede 
Another day assay in min absence 
This discipline, and this crafty science. 
Let take another unce, quod he tho, 
Of quiksilver, withouten wordes mo, 
And do therwith as ye have don er this 
With that other, which that now silver is. 16725 

The preest him besieth all that ever he can 
To don as this Chanon, this cursed man, 
Commandeth him, and faste blewe the fire, 
For to come to the effect of his desire. 
And this Chanon right in the mene while 
Al redy was this preest eft to begile, 
And for a countenance in his hond bare 
An holow stikke, (take kepe and beware) 16733 

In the ende of which an unce and no more 
Of silver limaile put was, as before 
Was in his cole, and stopped with wax wel 
For to kepe in his limaile every del. 
And while this preest was in his besinesse, 
This Chanon with his stikke gan him dresse 
To him anon, and his pouder cast in, 
As he did erst, (the devil out of his skin 
Him torne, I pray to God, for his falshede, 16742 


For he was ever false in thought and dede) 16743 

And with his stikke, above the crosselet, 

That was ordained with that false get, 

He stirreth the coles, til relenten gan 

The wax again the fire, as every man, 

But he a fool be, wote wel it mote nede. 

And all that in the stikke was out yede, 

And in the crosselet hastily it fell. 

Now, goode sires, what wol ye bet than wel. 16751- 
Whan that this preest was thus begiled again, 
Supposing nought but trouthe, soth to sain, 
He was so glad, that 1 can not expresse 
In no manere his mirth and his gladnesse, 
And to the Chanon he profered eftsone 
Body and good : ye, quod the Chanon, sone, 
Though poure I be, crafty thou shalt me finde : 
I warne thee wel, yet is ther more behinde. 16759 

Is ther any coper here within ? sayd he. 
Ye, sire, quod the preest, I trow ther be. 

Elles go beie us som, and that as swithe. 
Now, goode sire, go forth thy way and hie the. 

He went his way, and with the coper he came, 
And this Chanon it in his hondes name, 
And of that oper weyed out an unce. 
To simple is my tonge to pronounce, 
As minister of my wit, the doublenesse i67s- 


Of this Chanon, rote of all cursednesse. 1676.9 

He semed frendly, to hem that knew him nought, 
But he was fendly both in werk and thought. 
It werieth me to tell of his falsenesse ; 
And natheles yet wol I it expresse, 
To that entent men may beware therby, 
And for non other cause trewely. 

He put this coper into the crosselet, 
And on the fire as swithe he hath it set, 16777 

And cast in pouder, and made the preest to blow, 
And in his werking for to stoupen low, 
As he did erst, and all n'as but a jape ; 
Right as him list the preest he made his ape. 
And afterward in the ingot he it cast, 
And in the panne put it at the last 
Of water, and in he put his owen hond ; 16785 

And in his sieve, as ye beforen hond 
Herde me tell, he had a silver teine ; 
He slily toke it out, this cursed heine, 
(Unweting this preest of his false craft) 
And in the pannes bottome he it laft. 
And in the water rombleth to and fro, 
And wonder prively toke up also 
The coper teine, (not knowing thilke preest) 
And hid it, and him hente by the brest, , 
And to him spake, and thus said in his game; 16794 


Stoupeth adoun; by God ye be to blame : 16795 
Helpeth me now, as I did you whilere ; 
Put in your hond, and loketh what is there. 

This preest toke up this silver teine anon ; 
And thanne said the Chanon, let us gon 
With thise three teines which that we han wrought, 
To som goldsmith, and wete if they ben ought : 
For by my faith I n'olde for my hood 
But if they weren silver fine and good, issos 

And that as swithe wel preved shal it be. 

Unto the goldsmith with thise teines three 
They went anon, and put hem in assay 
To fire and hammer : might no man say nay, 
But that they weren as hem ought to be. 

This soted preest, who was gladder than he ? 
Was never brid gladder agains the day, 
Ne nightingale in the seson of May issn 

Was never non, that list better to sing, 
Ne lady lustier in carolling, 
Or for to speke of love and womanhede, 
Ne knight in armes don a hardy dede 
To stonden in grace of his lady dere, 
Than hadde this preest this craft for to lere ; 
And to the Chanon thus he spake and seid ; 
For the love of God, that for us alle deid, 
And as I may deserve it unto you, 16820 


What shal this receit cost ? telleth me now. 16821 

By our lady, quod this Chanon, it is dere. 
I warne you wel, that, save I and a frere, 
In Englelond ther can no man it make. 

No force, quod he ; now, sire, for Goddes sake, 
What shall I pay ? telleth me, I you pray. 

Ywis, quod he, it is ful dere I say. 
Sire at o word, if that you list it have, 
Ye shal pay fourty pound, so God me save ; 16829 
And n'ere the frendship that ye did er this 
To me, ye shulden payen more ywis. 

This preest the sum of fourty pound anon 
Of nobles fet, and toke hem everich on 
To this Chanon, for this ilke receit. 
All his werking n'as but fraud and deceit. 

Sire preest, he said, 1 kepe for to have no loos 
Of my craft, for I wold it were kept cloos ; i6S37 
And as ye love me, kepeth it. secree : 
For if men knewen all my subtiltee, 
By God they wolden have so gret envie 
To me, because of my philosophic, 
I shuld be ded, ther were non other way. 

God it forbede, quod the preest, what ye say. 
Yet had I. lever spenden all the good 
Which that I have, (and elles were I wood) 
Than that ye shuld fallen in swiche meschefe. 16S46 


For your good will, sire, have ye right good prefe, 
Quod the Chanon, and farewel, grand mercy. 16848 
He went his way, and never the preest him sey 
After that day : and whan that this preest shold 
Maken assay, at swiche time as he wold, 
Of this receit, farewel, it n'old not be. 
Lo, thus bejaped and begiled was he : 
Thus maketh he his introduction 
To bringen folk to hir destruction. 16855 

Considereth, sires, how that in eche estat 
Betwixen men and gold ther is debat, 
So ferforth that unnethes is ther non. 
This multiplying so blint many on, 
That in good faith I trowe that it be 
The cause gretest of swiche scarsitee. 
Thise philosophres speke so mistily 
In this craft, that men cannot come therby, 16863 
For any wit that men have now adayes. 
They mow wel chateren, as don thise jayes, 
And in hir termes set hir lust and peine, 
But to hir purpos shul they never atteine. 
A man may lightly lerne, if he have ought, 
To multiplie, and bring his good to nought. 
Lo, swiche a lucre is in this lusty game ; 
A mannes mirth it wol turne al to grame, 
And emptien also gret and hevy purses, 16872 



And maken folk for to purchasen curses 16873 

Of hem, that han therto hir good ylent. 

O, fy for shame, they that han be brent, 

Alas ! can they not flee the fires hete ? 

Ye that it use, I rede that ye it lete, 

Lest ye lese all ; for bet than never is late : 

Never to thriven, were to long a date. 

Though ye prolle ay, ye shul it never find ; 

Ye ben as bold as is Bayard the blind, i6S8i 

That blondereth forth, and peril casteth non : 

He is as bold to renne agains a ston, 

As for to go besides in the way : 

So faren ye that multiplien, I say. 

If that your eyen cannot seen aright, 

Loketh that youre mind lacke not his sight. 

For though ye loke never so brode and stare, 

Ye shul not win a mite on that chaffare, ie'889 

But wasten all that ye may rape and renne. 

Withdraw the fire, lest it to faste brenne ; 

Medleth no more with that art, I mene ; 

For if ye don, your thrift is gon ful clene. 

And right as swithe I wol you tellen here 

What philosophres sain in this matere. 

Lo, thus saith Arnolde of the newe toun, 
As his Rosarie maketh mentioun, 
He saith right thus, withouten any lie ; 


Ther may no man Mercurie mortifie, 16899 

But it be with his brothers knowleching. 

Lo, how that he, which firste said this thing, 
Of philosophres father was Hermes : 
He saith, how that the dragon douteles 
Ne dieth not, but if that he be slain 
With his brother. And this is for to sain, 
By the dragon Mercury, and non other, 
He understood, and brimstone by his brother, 16907 
That out of Sol and Luna were ydrawe. 

And therfore, said he, take heed to my sawe. 
Let no man besie him this art to seche, 
But if that he the entention and speche 
Of philosophres understonden can ; 
And if he do, he is a lewed man. 
For this science and this conning (quod he) 
Is of the secree of secrees parde. 16915 

Also ther-was a disciple of Plato, 
That on a time said his maister to, 
As his book Senior wol bere witnesse, 
And this was his demand in sothfastnesse : 
Telle me the name of thilke privee ston. 

And Plato answerd unto him anon ; 
Take the ston that Titanos men name, 
Which is that? quod he. Magnetia is the same, 
Saide Plato. Ye, sire, and is it thus ? 16924 


This is ignotum per ignotius. 16925 

What is Magnetia, good sire, I pray ? 

It is a water that is made, I say, 
Of the elementes foure, quod Plato. 

Tell me the rote, good sire, quod he tho, 
Of that water, if that it be your will. 

Nay, nay, quod Plato, certain that I n'ill. 
The philosophres were sworne everich on, 
That they ne shuld discover it unto non, 16933 

Ne in no book it write in no manere ; 
For unto God it is so lefe and dere, 
That he wol not that it discovered be, 
But wher it liketh to his deitee 
Man for to enspire, and eke for to defende 
Whom that him liketh ; lo, this is the ende. 

Than thus conclude I, sin that God of heven 
Ne wol not that the philosophres neven, 16941 

How that a man shal come unto this ston, 
1 rede as for the best to let it gon. 
For who so maketh God his adversary, 
As for to worken any thing in contrary 
Of his will, certes never shal he thrive, 
Though that he multiply terme of his live. 
And ther a point ; for ended is my tale. 
God send every good man bote of his bale. 16949 



WETE ye not wher stondeth a litel toun, 16950 
Which that ycleped is Bob up and doun, 
Under the blee, in Canterbury way ? 
Ther gan our hoste to jape and to play, 
And sayde ; sires, what ? Dun is in the mire. 
Is ther no man for praiere ne for hire, 16955 

That wol awaken our felaw behind ? 
A thefe him might ful lightly rob and bind. 
See how he nappeth, see, for cockes bones, 
As he wold fallen from his hors atones. 
Is that a coke of London, with meschance ? 
Do him come forth, he knoweth his penance ; 
For he shal tell a tale by my fey, 
Although it be not worth a botel hey. 16963 

Awake thou coke, quod he, God yeve thee sorwe, 
What aileth thee to slepen by the morwe ? 
Hast thou had fleen al night, or art thou dronke ? 
Or hast thou with som quene al night yswonke, 
So that thou mayst not holden up thin hed ? 

This coke, that was ful pale and nothing red, 
Sayd to our hoste ; so God my soule blesse, 
As ther is falle on me swiche hevinesse, 
N'ot I nat why, that me were lever to slepe, 169*2 


Than the best gallon wine that is in Chepe. 1 6.973 

Wei, quod the Manciple, if it may don ese 
To thee, sire Coke, and to no wight displese, 
Which that here rideth in this compagnie, 
And that our hoste wol of his curtesie, 
I wol as now excuse thee of thy tale ; 
For in good faith thy visage is ful pale : 
Thin eyen dasen, sothly as me thinketh, 
And wel I wot, thy breth ful soure stinketh, 16981 
That sheweth wel thou art not wel disposed : 
Of me certain thou shalt not ben yglosed. 
See how he galpeth, lo, this dronken wight, 
As though he wold us swalow anon right. 
Hold close thy mouth, man, by thy father kin : 
The devil of helle set his foot therin, 
Thy cursed breth enfecten woll us alle : 
Fy stinking swine, fy, foul mote thee befalle. 1698.9 
A taketh heed, sires, of this lusty man. 
Now, swete sire, wol ye just at the fan? 
Therto, me thinketh, ye be wel y shape. 
I trow that ye have dronken win of ape, 
And that is whan men playen with a straw. 

And with this speche the coke waxed all wraw, 
And on the Manciple he gan nod fast 
For lacke of speche; and doun his hors him cast, 
Wher as he lay, til that men him up toke. 


This was a faire chivachee of a coke ; 16999 

Alas that he ne had hold him by his ladel ! 

And er that he agen were in the sadel, 

Ther was gret shoving bothe to and fro 

To lift him up, and mochel care and wo, 

So unweldy was this sely palled gost : 

And to the Manciple than spake our host. 

Because that drinke hath domination 
Upon this man, by my salvation 17007 

I trow he lewedly wol tell his tale* 
For were it win, or old or moisty ale, 
That he hath dronke, he speketh in his nose, 
And sneseth fast, and eke he hath the pose. 
He also hath to don more than ynough 
To kepe him on his capel out of the slough : 
And if he falle from of his capel eftsone, 
Than shul we alle have ynough to done 17015 

In lifting up his hevy dronken cors. 
Tell on thy tale, of him make I no force. 

But yet, Manciple, in faith thou art to nice, 
Thus openly to repreve him of his vice : 
Another day he wol paraventure 
Recleimen thee, and bring thee to the lure : 
I mene, he speken wol of smale thinges, 
As for to pinchen at thy rekeninges, 
That were not honest, if it came to prefe. 17024 


Quod the Manciple, that were a gret meschefe : 
So might he lightly bring me in the snare. 17026 
Yet had I lever payen for the mare, 
Which he rit on, than he shuld with me strive. 
1 wol not wrathen him, so mote I thrive ; 
That that I spake, I sayd it in my bourd. 
And wete ye what ? I have here in my gourd 
A draught of win, ye of a ripe grape, 
And right anon ye shul seen a good jape. 17033 
This coke shal drinke therof, if that I may ; 
Up peine of my lif he wol not say nay. 

And certainly, to tellen as it was, 
Of this vessell the coke dranke fast, (alas ! 
What nedeth it? he dranke ynough beforne) 
And whan he hadde pouped in his home, 
To the Manciple he toke the gourd again. 
And of that, drinke the coke was wonder fain, 17041 
And thonked him in swiche wise as he coude. 

Than gan our hoste to laughen wonder loude, 
And sayd ; I see wel it is necessary 
Wher that we gon good drinke with us to cary ; 
For that wol turnen rancour and disese 
To accord and love, and many a wrong apese. 

O Bacchus, Bacchus, blessed be thy name, 
That so canst turnen ernest into game ; 
Worship and thonke be to thy deitee. 17050 


Of that matere ye get no more of me. 17051 

Tell on thy tale, Manciple, I thee pray. 

Wei, sire, quod he, now herkeneth what I say. 


WHAN Phebus dwelled here in erth adoun, 
As olde bookes maken mentioun, 
'He was the moste lusty bacheler 17006' 

Of all this world, and eke the best archer. 
He slow Phiton the serpent, as he lay 
Sleping agains the sonne upon a day; 
And many another noble worthy dede 
He with his bow wrought, as men mowen rede. 

Playen he coude on every minstralcie, 
And singen, that it was a melodic 
To heren of his clere vois the soun. 17054 

Certes the king of Thebes, Amphioun, 
That with his singing walled the citee, 
Coud never singen half so wel as he. 
Therto he was the semelieste man, 
That is or was, sithen the world began ; 
What nedeth it his feture to descrive ? 
For in this world, n'is non so faire on live. 
He was therwith fulfilled of gentillesse, 
fOf honour, and of parfite worthinesse. 17073 


This Phebus, that was flour of bachelerie, 17074 
As wel in fredom, as in chivalrie, 
For his disport, in signe eke of victorie 
Of Phiton, so as telleth us the storie, 
Was wont to beren in his hond a bowe. 
Now had this Phebus in his hous a crowe, 
Which in a cage he fostred many a day, 
And taught it speken, as men teche a jay. 
Whit was this crowe, as is a snow-whit swan, 17052 
And contrefete the speche of every man 
He coude, whan he shulde tell a tale. 
Therwith in all this world no nightingale 
Ne coude by an hundred thousand del 
Singen so wonder merily and wel. 

Now had this Phebus in his hous a wif, 
Which that he loved more than his lif, 
And night and day did ever his diligence 17090 
Hire for to plese, and don hire reverence : 
Save only, if that I the soth shal sain, 
Jelous he was, and wold have kept hire fain, 
For him were loth yjaped for to be ; 
And so is every wight in swiche degree ; 
But all for nought, for it availeth nought. 
A good wif, that is clene of werk and thought, 
Shuld not be kept in non await certain ; 
And trewely the labour is in vain 17099 


To kepe a shrewe, for it wol not be. 17100 

This hold I for a veray nicetee, 

To spillen labour for to kepen wives ; 

Thus writen olde clerkes in hir lives. 

But now to purpos, as I first began. 
This worthy Phebus doth all that he can 
To plesen hire, wening thurgh swiche plesance, 
And for his manhood and his governance, 
That no man shulde put him from hire grace : 17108 
But God it wote, ther may no man embrace 
As to destreine a thing, which that nature 
Hath naturelly set in a creature. 

Take any brid, and put it in a cage, 
And do all thin entente, and thy corage, 
To foster it tendrely with mete and drinke 
Of alle deintees that thou canst bethinke, 
And kepe it al so clenely as thou may ; 1 71 u' 

Although the cage of gold be never so gay, 
Yet had this brid, by twenty thousand fold, 
Lever in a forest, that is wilde and cold, 
Gon eten wormes, and swiche wretchednesse. 
For ever this brid will don his besinesse 
To escape out of his cage whan that he may : 
His libertee the brid desireth ay. 

Let take a cat, and foster hire with milke 17124 
And tendre flesh, and make hire couche of silke, 



And let hire see a mous go by the wall, 17] 26 

Anon she weiveth milke and flesh, and all, 

And every deintee that is in that hous, 

Swiche appetit hath she to ete the mous. 

Lo, here hath kind hire domination, 

And appetit flemeth discretion. 

A she- wolf hath also a vilains kind ; 
The lewedeste wolf that she may find, 
Or lest of reputation, wol she take 17134 

In time whan hire lust to have a make. 

All thise ensamples speke I by thise men 
That ben untrewe, and nothing by women. 
For men have ever a likerous appetit 
On lower thing to parforme hir delit 
Than on hir wives, be they never so faire, 
Ne never so trewe, ne so debonaire. 
Flesh is so newefangle, with meschance, 17142 

That we ne con in nothing have plesance, 
That souneth unto vertue any while. 

This Phebus, which that thought upon no gile, 
Disceived was for all his jolitee : 
For under him another hadde she, 
A man of litel reputation, 
Nought worth to Phebus in comparison : 
The more harme is ; it happeth often so ; 
Of which ther cometh mochel harme and wo. 17151 


And so befell, whan Phebus was absent, 17152 
His wif anon hath for hire lemman sent. 
Hire lemman ? certes that is a knavish speche. 
Foryeve it me, and that I you beseche. 

The wise Plato sayth, as ye mow rede, 
The word must nede accorden with the dede, 
If men shul tellen proprely a thing, 
The word must cosin be to the werking. 
I am a boistous man, right thus say I; 171 GO 

Ther is no difference trewely 
Betwix a wif that is of high degree, 
(If of hire body dishonest she be) 
And any poure wenche, other than this, 
(If it so be they werken both amis) 
But, for the gentil is in estat above, 
She shal be cleped his lady and his love ; 
And, for that other is a poure woman, 1716*8 

She shal be cleped his wenche .and his lemman: 
And God it wote, min owen dere brother, 
Men lay as low that on as lith that other. 

Right so betwix a titleles tiraunt 
And an outlawe, or any thefe erraunt, 
The same I say, ther is no difference, 
(To Alexander told was this sentence) 
But, for the tyrant is of greter might 
By force of meinie for to sle doun right, 17177 


And brennen hous and home, and make all plain, 
Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitain; 17179 

And, for the outlawe hath but snrale meinie, 
And may not do so gret an harme as he, 
Ne bring a contree to so gret meschiefe, 
Men clepen him an outlawe or a thefe. 

But, for I am a man not textuel, 
I wol not tell of textes never a del ; 
I wol go to my tale, as I began. 17186 

Whan Phebus wif had sent for hire lemman, 
Anon they wroughten all hir lust volage. 
This white crowe, that heng ay in the cage, 
Beheld hir werke, and sayde never a word : 
And whan that home was come Phebus the lord, 
This crowe song, cuckow, cuckow, cuckow. 

What? brid, quod Phebus, what song singest 

thou nOW? 17193 

Ne were thou wont so merily to sing, 

That to my herte it was a rejoysing 

To here thy vois ? alas ! what song is this ? 

By God, quod he, I singe not amis. 
Phebus, (quod he) for all thy worthinesse, 
For all thy beautee, and all thy gentillesse, 
For all thy song, and all thy minstralcie, 
For all thy waiting, blered is thin eye, 
With on of litel reputation, 17202 


Not worth to thee as in comparison 1 7203 

The mountance of a gnat, so mote I thrive ; 
For on thy bedde thy wif I saw him swive. 

What wol you more ? the crowe anon him told, 
By sade tokenes, and by wordes bold, 
How that his wif had don hire lecherie 
Him to gret shame, and to gret vilanie ; 
And told him oft, he sawe it with his eyen. 

This Phebus gan awayward for to wrien ; 17211 
Him thought his woful herte brast atwo. 
His bowe he bent, and set therin a flo ; 
And in his ire he hath his wif yslain : 
This is the effect, ther is no more to sain. 
For sorwe of which he brake his minstralcie, 
Both harpe and lute, giterne, and sautrie ; 
And eke he brake his arwes, and his bowe ; 
And after that thus spake he to the crowe. 17219 

Traitour, quod he, with tonge of scorpion, 
Thou hast me brought to my confusion : 
Alas that I was wrought ! why n'ere I dede ? 

O dere wif, o gemme of lustyhede, 
That were to me so sade, and eke so trewe, 
Now liest thou ded, with face pale of hewe, 
Ful gilteles, that durst I swere ywis. 

O rakel hond, to do so foule a mis. 
O troubled wit, o ire reccheles, 17228 


That unavised smitest gilteles. 172*29 

wantrust, fill of false suspecion, 
Wher was thy wit and thy discretion ? 

O, every man beware of rakelnesse, 
Ne trowe no thing withouten strong witnesse. 
Smite not to sone, er that ye weten why, 
And beth avised wel and sikerly, 
Or ye do any execution 

Upon your ire for suspecion. 17237 

Alas ! a thousand folk hath rakel ire 
Fully fordon, and brought hem in the mire. 
Alas ! for sorwe I wol myselven sle. 

And to the erowe, o false thefe, said he, 

1 wol thee quite anon thy false tale. 
Thou song whilom, like any nightingale, 
Now shalt thou, false thefe, thy song forgon, 

And eke thy white fethers everich on, 17245- 

Ne never in all thy lif ne shalt thou speke ; 

Thus shul men on a traitour ben awreke. 

Thou and thin ofspring ever shul be blake, 

Ne never swete noise shul ye make, 

But ever crie ageins tempest and rain, 

In token, that thurgh thee my wif is slain. 

And to the crowe he stert, and that anon, 
And pulled his white fethers everich on, 
And made him blak, and raft him all his song i/2">4 


And eke his speche, and out at dore himflong 17255 
Unto the devil, which I him betake ; 
And for this cause ben alle crowes blake. 

Lordings, by this ensample, I you pray, 
Beth ware, and taketh kepe what that ye say ; 
Ne telleth never man in all your lif, 
How that another man hath dight his wif ; 
He wol you haten mortally certain. 
Dan Salomon, as wise clerkes sain, 17263 

Techeth a man to kepe his tonge wel ; 
But as I sayd, I am not textuel. 
But natheles thus taughte me my dame ; 
My sone, thinke on the crowe a Goddes name. 
My sone, kepe wel thy tonge, and kepe thy frend ; 
A wicked tonge is werse than a fend : 
My sone, from a fende men may hem blesse. 
My sone, God of his endeles goodnesse 17271 

Walled a tonge with teeth, and lippes eke, 
For man shuld him avisen what he speke. 
My sone, ful often for to mochel speche 
Hath many a man ben spilt, as clerkes teche ; 
But for a litel speche avisedly 
Is no man shent, to speken generally. 
My sone, thy tonge shuldest thou restreine 
At alle time, but whan thou dost thy peine 
To speke of God in honour and prayere. 17230 

VOL. in. u 


The firste vertue, sone, if thou wolt lere, 17281 

Is to restreine, and kepen wel thy tonge ; 

Thus leren children, whan that they be yonge. 

My sone, of mochel speking evil avised, 

Ther lesse speking had ynough suffised, 

Cometh mochel harme ; thus was me told and taught; 

In mochel speche shine wanteth naught. 

Wost thou wherof a rakel tonge serveth ? 

Right as a swerd forcutteth and forkerveth 17239 

An arme atwo, my dere sone, right so 

A tonge cutteth frendship all atwo. 

A jangler is to God abhominable. 

Rede Salomon, so wise and honourable, 

Rede David in his Psalmes, rede Senek. 

My sone, speke not, but with thyn hed thou beck, 

Dissimule as thou were defe, if that thou here 

A janglour speke of perilous matere. 17297 

The Fleming sayth, and lerne if that thee lest, 

That litel jangling causeth mochel rest. 

My sone, if thou no wicked word hast said, 

Thee thar not dreden for to be bewraid ; 

But he that hath missayd, I dare wel sain, 

He may by no way clepe his word again. 

Thing that is sayd is sayd, and forth it goth, 

Though him repent, or be him never so loth, 

He is his thral, to whom that he hath sayd 17306 


A tale, of which he is now evil apaid. 17307 

My sone, beware, and be non auctour newe 
Of tidings, whether they ben false or trewe; 
Wher so thou come, amonges high or lowe, 
Kepe wel thy tonge, and thtnke upon the crowe. 1731 1 


T. WHITE & Co. 

n, 14, Bear Alley, London, 




PR Chaucer, Geoffrey 

1866 Canterbury tales